The diplomatic representative of the Asian country is visiting Quito for the first time, where he will hold a meeting with assembly members and the President of Ecuador. The official maintained an exclusive interview with EL TELÉGRAFO.
The Japanese bacteriologist Hideyo Noguchi – who discovered the pathogen of neurosyphilis – arrived in Guayaquil 100 years ago, date that coincides with the beginning of diplomatic relations between Ecuador and Japan.
Tarō Kōno, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Asian country, arrives on Monday August 13 for the first time in the country, where he will hold a meeting with the group of Friendship Assemblymen between Ecuador and Japan, and with the President of the Republic, Lenin Moreno.
In an exclusive interview with EL TELÉGRAFO, Kōno talks about the commercial, political, social and cooperation relations between his country and Ecuador. Recovering the spirit of Noguchi’s presence in the country.
What are the bilateral efforts for the exchange of knowledge?
Dr. Noguchi visited Ecuador 100 years ago. Thanks to the discovery of the yellow fever pathogen he was looking for, he was refining the new vaccine that saved many lives and it is a joy to know that it still remains in the memory of many Ecuadorians. Traditionally we develop friendly relations with Ecuador. In Japan, having as main objectives of development cooperation the reduction of poverty for a just society in Ecuador, we make focused efforts in the areas of the reduction of inequalities, the conservation of the environment and the prevention of disasters.
To fully support the development of Ecuador, in February of this year we reinforced our cooperation base by expanding the branch of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to a headquarters office in Ecuador.
With JICA, emphasis has been placed on cooperation after the 16 April earthquake.
What do they work in that area?
Disaster prevention is a common problem for Japan and Ecuador. JICA implements a disaster alarm system and other alerts through technical assistance. In the health sector we support to improve the medical environment through non-reimbursable cooperation and training grants in Japan, we also send Japanese volunteers.
In the field of education, in addition to receiving international students awarded by the Government, we send Japanese volunteers in the fields of environmental education, early education, among others. In addition, through the Juntos program, we promote the exchange of young people.
How do you rate the business climate in the country?
The Government of Japan supports the open political and economic reform of President Moreno’s government. Thus, I hope that progress will be made in the improvement of the business and investment environment in which the greater access of new Japanese companies will be facilitated, which will lead to the diversification of Ecuadorian foreign trade. With the aim of strengthening trade and investment by Japanese companies, in February of this year the Export and Investment Insurance of Japan (NEXI) expanded its acceptance conditions for Ecuador.
Under this new condition, Japanese companies can enter with greater security in business and investments in Ecuador. The economic relationship between Ecuador and Japan is based on the importation of technology and manufactured goods, and on the export of raw materials.
Will they continue to emphasize these sectors?
I am aware that Ecuador has abundant natural resources and energy, which offer great opportunities for investment. Investment in these sectors is important for the greater development of Ecuador.
The Government of Japan, with the objective of contributing to the sustainable development of Ecuador, once again undertook a reimbursable cooperation for the project to change the energy matrix that will be carried out after a period of 20 years.
The market share of agricultural and fishery products, such as bananas, cocoa, shrimp, among others, has grown in Japan. In particular, the demand for high quality cocoa called fine flavor cocoa increases.
Japan provides support to facilitate the export of cocoa. Recently some Japanese companies installed factories of production and processing of vegetables that are produced in places of altitude, like broccoli. I hope that this trend contributes to the diversification of Ecuador’s foreign trade by increasing the export of non-traditional products.
In what new economic sectors of the country would you like to invest and why?
In recent years, cooperation between the Government and private sectors has been developed in the field of information communications technology. This area has the potential to drastically transform our society and lifestyle. I wish eagerly that Ecuador can use the advanced technology of Japan.
For this reason, as an example this August, the Third Regional Workshop, organized by the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Information Society, was held on the use of communications information technology for the prevention of natural disasters, with the participation of government officials, specialists in the prevention of natural and academic disasters of several universities. In this way we introduce how communication technology can be used for the prevention of natural disasters. (I)