By Amina Nazarli
Azerbaijan and Japan discussed prospects for deepening of trade and political cooperation as Ali Hasanov, Azerbaijani president’s aide for public and political affairs paid a visit to Japan on March 7-11.
Hasanov met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan Hiroshige Seko who highlighted the role of Azerbaijan in ensuring the energy security of Europe.
Seko also said Azerbaijan's role in ensuring the security and peace increased in the entire region and the world.
The Japanese official applauded the development of relations between the two countries, saying his country was interested in broader economic cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Hasanov, for his part, stressed the importance of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Japan in bilateral and international level, emphasizing the significance of continuing the implementation of investments by Japanese companies to Azerbaijan.
Stressing the importance of reciprocal visits in development of bilateral relations, he handed over the letter of President Ilham Aliyev to Hiroshige Seko inviting the Premier Shinzo Aben to Azerbaijan for an official visit.
As part of his five-day visit Hasanov met with Director General of the Office for the Promotion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games under Japan`s Cabinet of Ministers, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for healthcare and sport affairs Takeo Hirata and Vice-Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Miki Yamada.
They exchanged views on prospects of relations between the two countries in economic, cultural, social and sport fields.
Hasanov has called on Japanese companies to join an initiative to transport gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe.
In an interview with Jiji Press in Tokyo, Hasanov said that his country hopes Japanese companies to expand their activities in the Caspian Sea.
Hasanov expressed hopes that Japanese companies will invest more in the Shah Deniz field and expand their activities.
The Shah Deniz field on the Azerbaijani section of the Caspian is one of the world's largest gas-condensate fields. With overall reserves estimated at 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas the field in its second phase of development is expected to be a main source of the Southern Gas Corridor to ensure energy security of Europe.
Hasanov said that Azerbaijan has cooperated with the EU for a long time, helping ensure energy safety and security for the region. He said that Azerbaijan will also work with Russia and Iran for Caspian Sea resources development.
Azerbaijan is promoting the Southern Gas Corridor initiative in cooperation with the European Union.
The president’s aide was also interviewed by Japanese Kyodo News, who highlighted the important contribution of the upcoming visit of Japanese Prime Minister to Azerbaijan in the development of economic cooperation between the two countries.
Talking about the rich natural resources of Azerbaijan, Hasanov noted that a sharp drop in oil prices led to a devaluation of the national currency manat. “Despite this, our country will export natural gas to Europe in 2018, and the realization TAP project is underway,” he said.
Japan is a donor country, implementing grant projects in Azerbaijan, allocating $42.9 million in 2013. Export to Azerbaijan from Japan amounted to about $78.2 million in 2015, according to the Government of Japan.
Azerbaijan is keen to become a bridge connecting Japan with Europe through China and Central Asia countries on the Great Silk Route. The Baku-Tbilsi-Kars railway to be commissioned this year will make the most important link of the new Silk Road.
Beginning this February Azerbaijan has simplified visa regime for Japan citizens to attract Japanese businessmen in the country to carry out a mutual exchange and investments.