Fifty years of Singapore-Japan diplomatic relations (SJ50) were marked on November 18 in Singapore, at Japan Business Expo – Takasaki Day, with the city of Takasaki, one of the largest cities in Gunma Prefecture and a key manufacturing centre for food, metal, and plastic products, representing Japan.
Kenji Tomioka, City Mayor, Takasaki highlighted the role of Takasaki as an increasingly important centre of industry for Singaporean businesses: “There are many different kinds of industries in Takasaki, particularly food and chemical industries. We also have a lot of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with high and advanced technology who are manufacturing in wide range of industries.”
Going forward, economic links are a key aspect of the future of this successful relationship. The city of Takasaki signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Singapore Manufacturing Federation at the same time. Both entities undertake to:
- Offer assistance to visiting members of the two organisations visiting the respective countries;
- Provide information on programmes organised to one another for circulation to respective members;
- Encourage Singaporean and Japanese companies to collaborate together in business for mutual benefit.
Douglas Foo, President of Singapore Manufacturing Federation explained: “Japan and Singapore’s economic ties have matured over the past 50 years. As well as the milestone of SJ50, the Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (JSEPA), which was signed in 2002, is the cornerstone of our economic relationship. The JSEPA was Japan’s first-ever free trade agreement, and Singapore’s first with a major trading partner. The JSEPA has not only created many business opportunities, but it has also fostered business stability, thus enhancing the mutual attractiveness of both markets.”
Tourism is also a key link between the two countries. Guest of honour HE the Ambassador of Japan Kenji Shinoda explained: “We are currently working very hard to make Japan more and more attractive to our foreign friends to think about going to Japan repeatedly, so that they can enjoy new and interesting experiences on each and every visit. Last year alone, almost 20 million tourists from overseas visited Japan, which was really record-breaking. But, we are even more ambitious. We would like to welcome 40 million foreign visitors annually by 2020, when the Tokyo Olympic Games will be held.”
Kanya Suemura, President of Takasaki Tourism Association, added: “Takasaki is located in a suburb of Tokyo where you can find a lot of natural and cultural scenery and resources, but at the same time the city is centre of economy where there are a lot of business activities going on." Takasaki is also one of the largest plum producers in Japan, he pointed out.