Japan PM to visit Iran for the first time in 38 years

Published March 7th, 2016 - 01:30 GMT
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit Iran in August around the same time as his visit to Kenya. (AFP/File)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit Iran in August around the same time as his visit to Kenya. (AFP/File)

Japan has informed Iran of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan to visit the Middle Eastern country in late August, The Nikkei daily reports.

"Abe hopes to swing by around the time he goes to Kenya" on Aug. 27-28, the world's largest financial newspaper said on Monday.

Abe will be the first Japanese prime minister to visit the Islamic Republic in 38 years since Takeo Fukuda traveled to Iran in September 1978.

The Japanese premier "intends to take the initiative to strengthen economic ties between Japan and Iran" after the lifting of sanctions on Tehran in January, The Nikkei said.

Iran is seen as a promising market, the paper said, adding Japanese corporations that had sharply downsized their Iranian operations or pulled out completely due to the sanctions are expected to resume investment and exports.

According to The Nikkei, business leaders in industries such as trading, automobiles and energy will likely accompany Abe in the trip.

Iran and Japan signed an investment pact in February that spells out protection of companies and investment assets.

With world leaders racing to embrace Iran, Abe has faced "growing calls at home to make a trip soon before Japan falls behind rivals," The Nikkei wrote.

Among Asian leaders, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran in January, while Park Geun-hye is considering travelling to the country for the first time by a South Korean president.

Swiss, Austrian and Azerbaijani heads of state have also traveled to Iran, with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu leading a 120-strong delegation to the country just on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani visited Europe in January, signing initial deals worth over $50 billion in Italy and France.

On Sunday, Minister of Economy and Commerce Ali Tayebnia said "the world's big economies" are interested in developing economic and trade relations with Iran.

"Hundreds of Japanese and European companies have announced readiness for a presence in the Iranian market in automotive, aviation and other sectors," he said in Tehran.

"We must seize on this chance and strive for attracting foreign resources and investment through improving the labor environment," Tayebnia added.

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