Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe, to arrive in Estonia for his upcoming visit of the Baltic states today Friday, told daily Eesti Päevaleht in an interview that he is hoping the two countries will get to an agreement on a working holiday program as soon as possible.
Abe said that Japan and Estonia have had a close relationship over the last few years, and that at this point some 100,000 Japanese tourists visit Estonia every year. The prime minister also pointed out that the growth of these numbers has been very quick at over 400 percent a year.
He added that the two countries are currently in consultations about an agreement on a tourist visa program that would include the right to work, a so-called working holiday agreement much in the way of the arrangement Estonia already has in place with Australia.
In terms of bilateral economic relations, Abe said he wanted an agreement avoiding double taxation as soon as possible to develop investment between Japan and Estonia, and increase economic exchange. He also pointed to the EU's economic partnership agreement with Japan that were completed last year during Estonia's EU council presidency. He expected the agreement to further boost the economic relations between the two countries, Abe said.
The prime minister is accompanied by a high-level trade delegation on his visit to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania that includes IT companies, large trading firms, and representatives of the forestry, manufacturing, and transport industries.
After his arrival today Friday Abe will meet with President Kersti Kaljulaid and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center). He will spend altogether five days in Europe, moving on to the other Baltic states and later on Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania.
This is the first time for an incumbent Japanese prime minister to visit these countries, while Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko paid a visit to Estonia in May 2007. Japanese ministers and deputy ministers have visited Estonia on several occasions.
Abe said that on his visit he is planning to reaffirm Japan's cooperations with these countries in matters concerning North Korea. Though tensions have eased somewhat due to the approaching Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, he wanted the international community to continue putting "maximum pressure" on North Korea in matters concerning the country's nuclear and missile programs, Abe told journalists before leaving on his trip.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: ERR, BNS, Päevaleht