Defense Minister Benny Gantz landed in Tokyo on Monday for an official visit celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Japan, the first time in a decade an Israeli defense minister is visiting the East Asian nation.
Accompanied by Israeli ambassador to Japan Gilad Cohen, Gantz will conduct meetings with Japanese government and security officials during his visit, including with Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu, the second most senior policymaker in Japan behind the prime minister.
According to a Defense Ministry statement, Gantz is also scheduled to meet with US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, the Jewish ex-mayor of Chicago and White House chief of staff under former president Barak Obama.
On Monday Gantz will attend a ceremony to honor former Japanese defense minister Nakayama Yasuhide, presenting him with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Israeli government for the “great support he showed the State of Israel,” the statement said.
Last week, air force Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Eyal Grinboim conducted a visit to Japan, meeting with Japan’s top air force commander General Shunji Izutsu.
The visit was the first involving an IAF official since 1991.
Ties between Israel and Japan have flourished in recent years, particularly with regard to bilateral trade.
In 2021, Japanese firms invested some $2.9 billion across 85 deals in Israeli companies, almost triple the amount in 2020, according to a study published in January by Harel-Hertz Investment House. In 2015 this figure totaled just $87 million.
Japan now accounts for 15.8% of all foreign investments in the Israeli tech industry, compared to just 1.8% in 2016, and 12% of the total investment (foreign and Israeli), wrote Elhanan Harel, the founder and president of Harel-Hertz and the author of the report.
Harel attributed the growth in economic integration between the two countries to the increasing volatility of the Chinese market following the US-China trade war, with Israeli investors seeing Japan as a safer alternative in East Asia.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.