AK in Japan: President notes common worldview on e-governance, democracy

Kersti Kaljulaid being interview by ERR in Tokyo.
Kersti Kaljulaid being interview by ERR in Tokyo. Source: ERR

Estonia and Japan share a mindset on e-governance, President Kersti Kaljulaid says, while Estonian firms are becoming increasingly interesting to the Japanese as well, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Wednesday.

The president, who is on an official visit to Japan ahead of the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony Sunday, told AK that: "The basic architecture and logic of the Japanese and Estonian e-governments are similar, and Japan's interest in the experience of our companies is growing."

"Coincidentally, the Japanese ID card is compatible with our e-solutions in terms of its architecture, meaning our entrepreneurs are very actively looking for an opportunity to offer and build services there [in Japan]," the head of state went on, adding that the average Japanese person was not, however, as confident about their state – when it comes to data at least – as the average Estonian is.

Kaljulaid also commended Japan on its hosting of the summer olympics, at which the Estonian team has so far picked up two medals, and the subsequent Paralympics, which are to start August 24.

The president will attend the games' closing ceremony Sunday, meet expat Estonians based in Japan and is also to present an award to the mayor of Saku, Japan, in recognition of the town's long-term promotion of Estonian-Japanese relations.

Saku, Nagano Prefecture, shares its name, at least as transliterated into the Roman alphabet, with Saku, Harju County – home of the brewery of the same name.

Estonia can also be of assistance to Japan in international security, as a temporary member of the UN Security Council, the president added.

"Estonia is a member of the UN Security Council, and it will be well known to Japan that sanctions against North Korea are not going to be lifted," the president told AK.

"Estonia is also a member of the EU and NATO; we are allies, in fact, and ultimately democratic countries that love freedoms and common values.

"This requires a united front globally against autocratic and totalitarian regimes. We have many points of contact. Among other things, we support each other by mutually nominating each other to various different [international] organizations," the president added.

Kaljulaid talked about the e-state and cooperation with Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga, but also acknowledged the importance of other links, such as tourism, which has been decimated due to the pandemic and its restrictions.

The president said that. "We have lost nine-tenths of Japanese tourists. Hopefully they will come back. Japanese tourists are among the most numerous coming to Estonia, and the most numerous from Asia. They value UNESCO sites and free, empty green space very much. I think this grassroots relationship can be built on this basis."

At the same time, trade has grown with Japan during the pandemic, she noted.

Also on the table was the centennial of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries – Estonia had been a part of the Russian Empire, which was defeated in a war with Japan a decade-and-a-half prior to independence – which is to be marked later this year.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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