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Najib's Maiden Visit To Japan Will Strengthen Bilateral Ties Print E-mail
TOKYO, April 17 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's maiden four-day visit to Japan starting Sunday will strengthen bilateral ties between both countries.

Malaysian ambassador to Japan Datuk Shaharuddin Md Som said the visit will give the two leaders the chance to exchange views on bilateral ties, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

"The visit will allow Malaysia and Japan to follow-up on cooperation in various fields," he told a press conference to mark Najib's visit at the Malaysian embassy here tSaturday.

The visit, Najib's first to Japan since becoming Prime Minister in April last year is on the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama who took over in Sept last year.

His last visit to Japan was in March 2007 in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

Najib is expected to arrive at Haneda airport at 9.15pm Sunday on a special flight from Honolulu accompanied by wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Information Communication and Culture Minister and Acting Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and wife and senior ministry officials.

The Prime Minister will stay at Akasaka Palace, the official residence for guests of the state.

In Tokyo, the Prime Minister is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

He will hold a bilateral meeting with Hatoyama and attend an official dinner hosted by the Japanese premier.

Najib will visit a recycling factory and meet Japanese industry captains and will be awarded honorary doctorate degree by Meiji University.

The Prime Minister will also meet up with Malaysian students in Japan before leaving for home.

Shaharuddin said Malaysia and Japan enjoyed close ties since diplomatic relations were established over 50 years ago and that 47 trips at ministerial and senior officials level were made last year.

Japan is Malaysia's largest investor in manufacturing with a record USD2.06 billion (RM7.25 billion) in 2009 while investment in 2008 stood at USD1.62 billion (RM5.4 billion).

He said Malaysia-Japan bilateral trade should be increased from year to year adding trade surplus still favours Malaysia with USD0.1 billion.

"The world economic crisis had a negative effect resulting in Malaysia-Japan declining to USD30.9 billion (RM108.7 billion) in 2009 from USD41.1 billion (RM136.5 billion) in 2008.

Japan was Malaysia's fourth largest trading partner last year with exports to Japan worth USD15.5 billion (RM54.6 billion).

Imports were worth USD15.4 billion (RM54.2billion) with electrical and electronic products, vehicle spareparts and steel as the main items.

Shaharuddin said Japanese tourist arrivals to Malaysia last year stood at 395,746, lower than the 433,362 in 2008.

"The drop was due to H1N1 flu and the world economic crisis which caused people to be prudent when spending."

The 'Malaysia My Second Home' (MM2H) programme had also received good response with participation of 1,114 Japanese from 1996 to Feb 2010, mostly in Penang and Cameron Highlands.

Over 15,000 Malaysian students had benefited from the Look East Policy introduced since 1982.

He said the policy had contribution to the country's human resource development.

Some 2,395 Malaysian students are taking courses at various levels in universities and higher learning centres in Japan.