DOHA: The visiting Japanese Premier, Shinzo Abe yesterday urged Qatar to lift import restrictions on Japanese food and fruits here at the opening of Qatar-Japan Business Forum.
Qatar, including many other countries, placed food imports restrictions from Japan nearly two years ago after the Fukushima meltdown in 2011 to avoid possible entry of any food items contaminated or radioactive.
According to sources, Japanese food products to be imported to Qatar are required to submit inspection certificates from the competent authorities saying that their products are safe for human consumption.
Just couple of days ago, Bahrain became the first country in the Gulf to remove similar restrictions on food imports from Japan, on the Japanese premier’s request.
The prime minister, who is on an official visit to the region (including Bahrain, Kuwait and Djibouti), with an accompanying 150-member businessmen delegation, was addressing to the audience at Qatar-Japan Business Forum, a one-day event jointly organised by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan Cooperation Centre for the Middle East (JCCME) and JOGMEC, a state-backed energy corporation.
During his address, Abe highlighted the significance of Qatar-Japan relationships and assured to further deepen and strengthen it to take to new heights. In addition to energy and construction sectors, he said that health care, education, skills development, agriculture, food security and medical technology could be some of the most promising sectors of mutual cooperation.
On the sidelines of the event, JOGMEC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar Petroleum to enhance cooperation in petroleum and natural gas sector.
“I hope that this seminar today (yesterday) will be a good opportunity for Qatar and Japan to enhance the bilateral relationship,” he said.
He thanked Qatar, for its support, when the energy-rich country promised Japan a priority shipment of an additional 40mt of gas after the devastating Tsunami in 2011.
The premier also recalled the then famous statement of Qatargas CEO, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani: “Japan is our foundation customer, who has strongly supported the economic development of Qatar... It is now our turn to continue to provide all the support we can”, which the CEO made during his visit to the Tsunami-hit Japan, within a month after the catastrophe.
“I was moved by these words… I can’t tell you how much I was relieved (after getting the additional gas supply from Qatar),” Abe said.
H E Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry also addressed the gathering. Others present were Hiroyuki Ishige, Chairman, JETRO; Hiromasa Yonekura, Chairman of Japan Business Federation and many senior officials from different ministries, Public Works Authority (Ashghal), Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Foundation, Qatargas, Rasgas, and dignitaries from Qatar and Japan.