The Embassy of Japan in Doha highlighted the strong bilateral relations between Qatar and Japan, particularly in the area of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production and trade, marking Japan’s National Day Monday at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel.
“Japan made a significant contribution in the creation of Qatar’s LNG export sector in the late 20th century. Japan’s contribution included the participation of Japanese private companies in Qatar’s LNG marketing and engineering support to produce LNG in the North Field as well as major LNG sales contracts,” Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda told reporters recently in Doha.
The envoy noted that Qatar has been a reliable and important LNG supplier for more than 25 years since Japan received Qatar’s first-ever LNG export in 1997. While a large-scale LNG contract between Japan and Qatar was terminated by the end of 2021 without renewal, he said among the reasons behind this move is to promote what was called the “Green Growth Strategy”.
This, Maeda said, refers to a positive cycle of both economic growth and environmental protection by achieving carbon neutrality. Environment and new energy (blue ammonia) are promising fields for future Japan - Qatar relations, given Japan’s world-class energy efficiency technologies and interest in new energies.
“In this light, it is important to vitalise new power generation businesses such as renewable energy and hydrogen power generation. That said, Japanese companies are still interested in importing LNG from Qatar.
“Given that, Japan aims to continue its LNG cooperation with Qatar and expand our cooperation into new energy fields, such as blue ammonia and hydrogen, which are by-products of natural gas processing,” Maeda said.
The event, which also marks the 63rd birthday of His Majesty, Japan Emperor Naruhito, also puts a spotlight on the strengthening of other areas of cooperation between the two countries.
The enjoy said Qatar and Japan agreed to become “comprehensive partners” in 2013 to solidify and diversify existing ties, which include enhancing multi-sectoral co-operation: from new and renewable energies to culture, science and technology, national security, academic exchange, and human resource development.
He pointed out that the United Nations Least Developed Countries, set to take place in Doha from March 5 to 9, provides a golden opportunity for Japan to share its valuable experiences of development assistance.
In the Economic Affairs, the Japanese envoy said cooperation between the two countries remains strong: Japan was Qatar’s 4th top destination in the world for export last year (1st: China, 2nd: India, 3rd: South Korea and 4th: Japan).
Export to Qatar in 2022: about $1.23bn, up from $0.76bn in 2021. Import from Qatar in 2022: about $13.05bn, up from about $9.57bn in 2021. There are 34 Japanese companies in Qatar. Japan’s car export to Qatar in 2022: 21,825 cars, up since 2020.
On people-to-people exchanges, Maeda said as of February this year, there are about 550 Japanese residents in Qatar who are engaged in various sectors.
“For example, in the business sector, some of them primarily work for energy-related Japanese private companies and Qatar Airways. In the education sector, there are some Japanese teachers in the Japanese School of Doha and students in Qatar University,” he said.
However, he pointed out that the overall number of Japanese residents in Qatar has been decreasing since the Covid-19 pandemic due largely to the decline in Japanese business activities.
Maeda said the number is expected to increase this year as the situation is nearly back to normalcy, in addition to the Japanese chemical engineering company’s involvement in the North Field expansion project in Ras Laffan.
With regards to the Qatar – Japan bilateral aspect of the World Cup, Maeda said Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado visited Qatar from November 27 to December 3, 2022, as Honorary Patron of the Japan Football Association.
“This is the first visit by a member of the Japanese imperial family since the current Emperor and Empress visited Qatar in 1994 when they were Crown Prince and Princess,” he added.
Strong bilateral relations between Qatar and Japan, says Japanese ambassador Satoshi Maeda. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam