Israel and Japan will cooperate in developing digital health technologies and will promote partnerships in the automotive and cybersecurity fields.
The two nations on Tuesday set up a total of six agreements, including the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in digital health.
The accords were signed during the visit in Israel of what has been dubbed as “the largest and most senior ever” Japanese delegation to Israel, led by Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko, and including 150 representatives of some 90 companies, including giant corporations Honda, Mitsubishi, Hitachi and Toshiba.
“We are starting to see the fruits of strengthening the economy between Japan and Israel,” Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen said during a meeting of the Japan Israel Innovation Network (JINN) Business Forum that took place in Jerusalem on Tuesday, during which the accords were signed. The business forum was set up in May 2017, to promote economic cooperation.
Cohen added that the volume of trade between the two companies has “increased by more than 25% only in the last two years,” and the goal for the coming year is to raise Israeli exports to Japan to above $1 billion. Israel is also striving to boost Japanese investments in Israel by helping 30 Japanese companies make investments in Israel in the next year, as well as help set up five new Japanese offices in the country.
In the next three years, Cohen said, the aim is to “at least double the trade volume between Japan and Israel.”
Exports of Israeli products to Japan jumped 46% to $870 million in the first three quarters of 2018, compared to the previous year, while in the first nine months of 2018 Israel imports from Japan rose 7% to $1.51 billion, according to data provided by the Israeli ministry.
Cohen said the two countries are not competitors, and by joining forces they “will give a lot of hope to the world” as they both see technology and innovation as the most important economic power for the future.
Digital health, he said, is one of the “most important engines” of Israel’s economy and will be one of the most important growth engines globally for the coming decades. Thus, he said, “Japan and Israel can be the best partners” in the mission to promote this field.
The big challenges for the future are setting up a direct flight between the two countries and accelerating a free trade agreement between the nations, Cohen said.
Shion Kawai, the Press and Cultural attaché at the Japanese embassy in Tel Aviv, said that Japanese companies are “very interested in strengthening the ties with Israel.”
Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, he said, Japanese Cybersecurity and Olympics Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada visited Israel earlier this month to check out Israeli know-how in cybersecurity and to see what technology could be useful ” to defend our Olympic games.”
Akira Shisa, who works as general manager in the Aero Engine, Space & Defense Business Area of the Japanese firm IHI Corporation, one of the biggest multinational companies in the world, focusing among other things on the design and construction of aero-engines, said that the firm is in Israel “to look for new technologies.”
He added that this was his first visit to Israel, representing a starting point (for cooperation) with a lot of potential for the company.