The Land of the Ever-Rising Sun: Japan and Israel

In January 2019, approximately 200 representatives from nearly 100 Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi and Toshiba, accompanied the Japanese Minster of the Economy, Hiroshige Seko to Israel. They attended meetings of the Japan Israel Innovation Network ("JIIN"), whose goal is to advance and strengthen economic cooperation between Japan and Israel and which has organized business networking for more than 1,000 companies through more than 50 events.

120-fold increase in Japanese investment in Israel

And certainly, there are strong grounds for optimism. When Japanese Prime Minister Abe visited Israel in May 2018, he announced that economic relations of the two countries was developing at an exponential level. Compared to the time the second Abe Administration started in 2012, the number of Japanese companies in Israel increased almost three-fold from 25 to 70, and Japanese investment in Israel increase from 1.1 billion yen to 130 billion yen, a 120-times increase.

Clear government support was a strong factor. In 2017, Israel and Japan signed and ratified a Bilateral Agreement for Liberalization, Promotion and Protection of Investments, offering protections from one country to the other. Other cooperation agreements were signed in 2017, promoting increase cooperation among government bodies, economic organizations and companies across a wide range of sectors, including in artificial intelligences ("AI"), robotics, Internet of things and autonomous driving, as well as life sciences, space, industrial research and agriculture science. One key agreement calls for increased investments and joint activity in the field of cybersecurity, especially with one eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, next July.

Such collaborations are hardly surprising given the interests and strengths of these two technological titans. "it is often said that Israel is turning from a start-up nation into a scale-up nation. Scaling up is what Japanese companies are best at, so the opportunities for the commercial connection between the two countries are expanding further," said Motoki Kurita – Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of Japan in Tel Aviv.

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Originally published by Israel Desks magazine, July Edition 2019.

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