On Wednesday, January 8, a Japanese delegation met with Moroccan officials in Rabat. The meetings tackled several fields of bilateral cooperation, and led to the signing of three agreements.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister Delegate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohcine Jazouli, and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Keisuke Suzuki, chaired the fifth Morocco-Japan Joint Commission meeting in Rabat, on Wednesday, January 8.
The meeting was an opportunity for the Moroccan and Japanese delegations and ministries to outline plans and concrete projects that would improve Moroccan-Japanese cooperation, Jazouli said during the inauguration speech.
The meeting confirms the “profound, sincere, and solid” friendship between Morocco and Japan, affirmed Jazouli.
The friendship is mainly linked to the “privileged relationship” between the Moroccan Royal family and the Japanese Imperial family. The relationship strengthened following the visit of King Mohammed VI to Japan in November 2005, said the Moroccan minister.
“Morocco-Japanese cooperation is built on concrete projects and real solidarity,” declared the minister, expressing “Morocco’s appreciation” for the financial support and technical assistance provided by the Japanese government for development projects in the Kingdom, especially through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
In recent years, Morocco has experienced a “new dynamic thanks to a [strategic] vision that allowed it to open to the continent and beyond,” noted Jazouli, expressing Morocco’s ambition to become a “delocalized platform for Japanese industrial exports towards the African continent and the Mediterranean.”
Jazouli recalled that Japan is the third economic power in the world and that it is present in Morocco through 71 different businesses, employing around 40,000 people.
The minister indicated that cultural exchange is also important to reinforce cooperation, saying that “culture and cultural exchanges are the cement linking the two peoples.”
Morocco has a lot of “geographic potential”
Meanwhile, the Japanese foreign minister underlined the “utility” of the meeting between Morocco and Japan, along with the “importance and geographic potential” of Morocco.
Suzuki described the official visits of Princess Lalla Hasnaa and Prince Moulay Rachid to Japan, for the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito in 2018, as “symbolic.” The visits contributed to improving relations between the Royal and Imperial families of the two countries, according to the minister.
The Japanese official also mentioned Morocco’s participation in the seventh Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD-VII), in Yokohama in August 2019.
The conference helped “promote economic relations” between the two parties and concluded with the signature of several agreements between private economic actors, added Suzuki.
The Japanese minister hopes that the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics will improve the relationship between Morocco and Japan even further, especially in the fields of sports and culture.
Suzuki recalled the growing number of Japanese companies operating in Morocco, commending the improvement of the business climate in the Kingdom.
Signing on the dotted line
By the end of the meeting, Jazouli and Suzuki signed three partnership agreements to encourage Japanese investment in Morocco.
The first accord concerns the promotion and protection of investment and aims to create advantageous conditions for investments in both countries, as well as promoting economic and bilateral relations.
The second agreement aims to avoid double taxation and to prevent tax evasion and fraud. It applies to people living in the two countries.
Finally, the third agreement, part of the Japanese “economic and social development program,” seeks to equip five production facilities in Moroccan prisons.
The Japanese Ambassador to Morocco, Takuji Hanatani, and the Moroccan Ambassador to Japan, Rachad Bouhlal, attended the signing ceremony, along with other officials from the two countries.
Japan’s support for Morocco’s territorial integrity
The Moroccan minister saluted Japan’s position on the Western Sahara question.
“I would like to thank Japan for its position regarding our territorial integrity,” said Jazouli.
“Japan does not recognize any separatist entity, as expressed in the Japanese-African summit that took place in Yokohama, Japan, last August,” he continued.
During TICAD-VII, the Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono reiterated his country’s official position of non-recognition of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
“Japan does not recognize ‘Western Sahara’ as a state. This is a constant and immovable position that Japan does not intend to change,” said Katsuhiko Takahashi, the General Director of the MENA region at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the summit.
Meetings about industry, agriculture, and fisheries
The meeting with Elalamy looked at bilateral relations between Morocco and Japan in terms of economic and industrial cooperation. Meanwhile, the meeting with Akhannouch concerned reinforcing partnerships between the two countries in the fields of agriculture and fisheries.