Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to visit Israel in mid-January, the first by a Japanese prime minister since 2006, comes on the heels of an agreement to strengthen bilateral ties, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The visit, though still unofficial, follows the Israeli cabinet’s approval on Sunday of a plan to upgrade the economic relationship with investments worth “tens of millions of shekels” over the next three years.
The agreement calls for the opening of an Israeli trade office in Osaka, increasing the number of commercial attaches in Tokyo, increasing joint research grants by 50 percent in 2015, increasing space cooperation, and promoting Japanese tourism.
The Japanese connection represents part of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s strategy of diversification, lessening the country’s dependence on U.S. and EU markets.
“In the last two years, I have met with the leaders of China, Japan and India as part of a comprehensive policy of turning to major markets including Latin America and Africa,” Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting.