Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva held a number of meetings on the first day of her visit to Japan where both countries expressed their readiness to exchange expertise in different areas,
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“Bulgaria will not forget Japan’s support during the transition period, thanks to which various projects worth more than 1.4 billion leva have been financed,” Deputy Prime Minister Zaharieva said at his meeting with Shinichi Kitaoka, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency .
“We want to continue our cooperation with projects in the Western Balkans focusing on young people and small and medium-sized enterprises,” she added.
“You are a successful model for many countries, as you have become a donor after a relatively short period of receiving aid,” pointed out Shinichi Kitaoka. He expressed his readiness for the Japan International Cooperation Agency to continue working with Bulgaria on various projects in the Western Balkans meeting the Sofia agenda adopted by EU leaders during the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
In February this year. the first Bulgarian-Japanese Initiative on the topic – a seminar on the Western Balkans on flood prevention and response to these disasters, co-organized by the Directorate-General for Fire Safety and Protection of the MoI with the Ministry of the Interior, was funded by the Bulgarian MFA within the framework of Official Development Assistance.
Ekaterina Zaharieva and Shinichi Kitaoka discussed other areas of future cooperation – training of experts, the Japan International Co-operation Agency coordinates Japan’s Official Development Assistance Policy, as well as providing preferential loans and grants to the Japan Bank for International cooperation.
The agency has over 1800 staff, 97 overseas offices, works on projects in 150 countries and has a budget of about 1 trillion yen (about $ 8.5 billion).
Since 1989, the Agency has funded training of 842 Bulgarian experts in Japan, sending 243 Japanese experts to Bulgaria and over 200 volunteers, equipment supply, technical cooperation projects and research.
For the first time a representative of the Bulgarian government was also accepted by the governor of Tokyo. The position is handled by a lady, Yuriko Koyke, a former adviser to the Prime Minister of National Security, former Minister of Defense and the Environment. Among her priorities as a governor are the preservation of the environment and sustainable development of Tokyo, as well as the organization of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
“We know that Bulgaria is very strong in gymnastics and artistic gymnastics and we hope the country will perform well,” Ms. Koyke said at the meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Zaharieva. “I know Bulgaria is a country with very strong women who are represented on many levels in public life. You are on the 18th place in the world ranking for empowering women, Japan is behind and I hope to learn a lot from you “she continued.
“I am sure that the Tokyo 2020 Games will be very successful, I wish success to all athletes, especially Bulgarian and Japanese,” said Ekaterina Zaharieva. “Bulgaria has much to share about the role of women in politics and business,” she said.
The Deputy Prime Minister recalled that the first wedding of Olympic Games between athletes was in Tokyo in 1964 – by Nikolay Prodanov and Diana Yorgova, and their president became the President of the International Olympic Committee Avery Brindj.
Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva also took part in the initiative for making the medals of the Olympics from metals extracted from old mobile phones. She and all members of her delegation donated their old phones for recycling, which will be used to make nearly 5000 gold, silver and bronze medals.
“In 45 schools in Tokyo, children are learning about Bulgaria, we want to deepen this cooperation,” said the Tokyo governor and asked for cultural exchanges, especially the visit of various artists from Bulgaria.
Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva hosted a reception at the Bulgarian embassy, which marked the beginning of the celebrations of three anniversaries in the Bulgarian-Japanese relations – 110 years since the first official contacts, 80 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations and 60 years since their recovery.
During the reception, who had gathered Bulgarian diplomats and friends,
Minister Zaharieva awarded five Japanese citizens for their contribution to our country – conductor Mitsuyoshi Oikawa, musician folklorist Shiro Ishizuka, sculptor Massaji Asaga, Honorary Consul of Bulgaria in Osaka Yuzuru Hirano and the driver at the embassy Teruaki Shiota, who has been driving Bulgarian ambassadors for 36 years in the country of the rising sun.
Minister Zaharieva held a meeting with the three Honorary Consuls of Bulgaria in Japan and talked to Japanese businessmen willing to import products from Bulgaria as well as investors of the largest Japanese sushi production plant in Europe, which is located in Plovdiv.
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