During his official visit to Japan, President Abdulla Yameen has met with Emperor Akihito, in addition to holding a summit meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
According to the President’s Office website, the discussions during Tuesday’s summit meeting included multiple areas where the two countries could cooperate.
The Japanese prime minister hosted a dinner in honour of the Maldivian president, during which Yameen praised Japan as having been the Maldives’ most generous post-independence development partner.
The areas discussed during yesterday’s meeting were said to include environmental sustainability, clean energy, defense, maritime security, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure development, communications, broadcasting, human resource development, youth empowerment, disaster risk reduction, climate change mitigation, trade, and investment.
After conclusion of the meeting, Shinzo Abe told the press that the Maldives and Japan shared similar fundamental values of freedom and democracy, and that the two countries had agreed to work together to deal with both regional and global issues.
He further affirmed Japan’s commitment to promote bilateral cooperation in combating climate change, with leaders signing a joint statement at the end of the summit.
In a statement released to media, President Yameen spoke of the close ties between the two countries, and of the mutual extending of aid at times of need.
“Ten years ago, the Maldives was affected by the Asian Tsunami. Japan’s response to our appeals for support and assistance in our recovery efforts was overwhelming.”
“In 2011, Japan was struck by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The Maldivian people, keen on showing their solidarity and support for those in affected areas, donated 700,000 tuna cans to be dispatched to Japan.”
“We were glad that we were of some assistance to Japanese when they were in time of need. To date, the response to that appeal remains a record in the Maldives – a confirmation of the special bonds of friendship between our two peoples,” the statement read.
During his visit, President Yameen has also extended an invitation to the Japanese Prime Minister to conduct an official visit to the Maldives.
On his first day in Tokyo, the President met with Maldivian families and students residing in Japan.
While speaking of the goals he wished to achieve during his visit, the president also remarked that “one of the highest priorities of the government is to transform the political instability among Maldivians into a development outlook”.
The President’s Office website further report Yameen as stating that a country with a politically motivated people would not be able to sustain harmony.
Japan is the biggest bilateral donor to the Maldives, with data from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency showing that the east Asian nation had given over US$450 million to the Maldives in development assistance between 2004 and 2010.
President Yameen was quoted as telling those president at yesterday’s honorary dinner that “it was likely today, there is not a single Maldivian who has not benefitted, both directly and indirectly, from support and assistance by Japan.”
Projects benefiting from Japanese aid have included the first mechanisation of fishing vessels between 1973-76, the development of Malé’s seawall between 1987-2003, and the extension of loans amounting to US$34 million for post-tsunami reconstruction.
Japan is also one of the Maldives largest trading partners, importing over US$3million worth of fish from the Indian Ocean nation in 2012.
President Abdulla Yameen was invited to make an official state visit to Japan during December 2013 by Japanese Ambassador to the Maldives Nobuhito Hobo. At the time, Japan gifted 200 million Japanese yen (US$ 1,956,400) in grant aid for medical supplies.