Japan opens its doors to Kosovo

Japan opens its doors to Kosovo
 The charge d'affaires at the Japanese Embassy in Kosovo, Ogasawara Mitsunori. Pristina, June, 2020
 The opening of the Japanese Embassy in Kosovo is one of the most important decisions within the Japanese Initiative for Cooperation in the Western Balkans, the Charge d'Affaires of this Embassy in Pristina, Ogasawara Mitsunori, told to Radio Free Europe.

"The stability of the Western Balkans contributes to the stability of the whole of Europe. "Kosovo does not seem to have a stable status in the international community and that is why we are trying to support it, in solving internal problems, such as poverty, but also on the international stage," Mitsunori said.

Shinzo Abe's initiative

The Western Balkans Cooperation Initiative was launched by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2018 to strengthen and co-operate.

Mitsunori says has been achieved close co-operation with the six Western Balkan countries through this initiative and that the focus is now on Kosovo.

"There is no Chinese or Korean embassy here (in Kosovo), so when it comes to Asia, we are actually trying to show our presence. We cannot provide as much money as China (in the region). China is ten times larger than Japan in terms of population, but it is also large in the economy. We are trying to focus on people and their needs", commented Mitsunori for the latest article in the international online magazine, regarding the biggest role of Japan in Kosovo, while China has remained aside.

Otherwise, Kosovo is the only country in the Western Balkans that has not received medical assistance from China, as part of its "diplomacy of face masks". Kosovo is also the only country in the Western Balkans where there is no Chinese economic investment. China does not recognize Kosovo's independence and respects the integrity of Serbia, which under the Constitution still treats Kosovo as part of it.

Where is the ground for cooperation?

Japan has opened its embassy in Pristina on January 1, 2020, and these days the embassy staff is entering new premises. In the future, the embassy will start issuing visas, which Kosovo citizens currently receive in Tirana.

The opening ceremony of this embassy was postponed due to coronavirus pandemic. The non-resident ambassador of Japan in Vienna, Mitzutani Akira, presented his credentials to the President of Kosovo in March.

Ogasawara Mitsunori says the opening of the Japanese embassy in Kosovo shows that Japan wants to strengthen economic cooperation and help Kosovo attract Japanese companies.

"Most Japanese still think that Kosovo is dangerous and that it is not safe because of the conflict with Serbia. But once someone comes here, will see that it is very safe. I read a UNDP study that says most in Kosovo feel safe. But they still do not have this information," he said.

"I really want to promote Kosovo to Japanese companies, so that they can see how the situation is here (in Kosovo). But, due to the pandemic, this will take time, but I will definitely try", he added.

Is Japan interested in the Western Balkans?

According to Mitsunori, the Western Balkans region has economic potential and many Japanese companies in the European Union are considering new investments in Southern Europe. He considers Kosovo's potential to be a skilled workforce with good knowledge of foreign languages, easy access to the European market, and motivated and polite people.

For more than 20 years, Japan has helped Kosovo with projects such as renovating schools and hospitals. Japan's International Development Agency, JICA, has so far implemented several projects in Kosovo, such as developing air pollution control capacity at 4m euros. Also, JICA has implemented a project for capacity building of waste management capacities, a project for capacity building for the public service of Kosovo, and others.

In Kosovo, exactly in Mitrovica, there is also the largest Japanese shiitake mushroom farm in Europe, Hirano Mushroom exports to 12 countries. Also, the Japan Tobacco International is located in Kosovo.

"Now, we are in Pristina and I can say that we will work harder for new projects," said Mitsunori.

How and in what way does Japan help Kosovo?

At the seminar of Kosovar, Japanese and Austrian businessmen held in Vienna in September 2019, Japanese companies received more information about Kosovo. The Japanese Embassy also plans to bring Japanese companies to Kosovo in the future.

Japan's latest aid to Kosovo certainly has to do with supporting the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. Japan has donated over $ 718,000 to Kosovo through UNICEF to combat coronavirus pandemic.

Based on the data of the Central Bank of Kosovo, the value of Japan's foreign direct investment in Kosovo, by March 2020 has reached the figure of about 3.6 million euros..
Japan opens its doors to Kosovo Japan opens its doors to Kosovo Wednesday, June 10, 2020 Rating: 5
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