In a 360 interview with H.E.Ambassador Mr. Masuo Nishibayashi, to thediplomat.gr, the Japanese Ambassador talked in depth about the tourism and business relationships between Japan and Greece.
Mr Nishibayashi also referred to the technology know-how sharing as well as the current investments of Japanese companies in Greece. Methods and tactics to fight recession as well as examples from the Japanese state, were also discussed in-depth providing an insight of best practice tactics. The ambassador however expressed his curiosity regarding the lack of concrete tourism development and promotion plan on behalf of the Greek government, whereas he exemplified the close relationships between Greek ship-owners and the Japanese ship building sector.
Interview Key Points
Business Investments- A how-to guide
“Business relationships between Japan and Greece have been developing a lot many years ago but unfortunately due to the recent economic crisis our economic relations are a bit stagnant”
The Ambassador said that Japanese companies that operate in Greece (such as Nintendo, Japan Tobacco International, Hitachi) instead of having Japanese businessmen as employees, all of them are localised so they contribute to the employment of the Greek people.
“The Japanese companies have been doing very well in this sense so the investment has been very successful from Japan. In order to promote future investments from Japan, I think the Greek side should make further efforts to invite Japanese companies and create the atmosphere which will enable Japan companies to run their business smoothly. The Greek government should accelerate its reforms so as to abolish capital controls as soon as possible. We also expect and hope that the Greek government will establish a clear and strong industrial policy” Mr. Masuo Nishibayash emphasized.
A New Powerstation In Ptolemaida, Made By Hitachi
“There is a new electric powerstation in Ptolemaida… Japanese electric company maker HITACHI that has participated in this project will use brown coal, imported from the Balkan countries. This big power station will be completed by 2019-2020″ announced the Ambassador.
Tourism – Losing competitive power
“Greece used to be a very popular tourist spot for Japanese people until recently. Some 10 or 20 years ago there were more than 100,000… probably 130,000 tourists coming from Japan but now this number has dropped to 10,000. Before the economic crisis we had 60,000 or 70,000 people Japanese tourists here in Greece but after the economic crisis the number dropped to 10,000.” underlined Mr. Nishibayashi.
As the Ambassador explained the fall of the number of Japanese tourists is caused by the bad image of Greece has, presented through the media as well as the “fighting in the Syntagma square”.
“It’s a sort of the bad rumor. We have to rectify this rumor and give a good image. As far as I’m concerned I really enjoy visiting various places of this country, very beautiful and wonderful places.”, the Ambassador continued.
This bad image combined with the great competition of your neighbors… Turkey, Croatia and some Balkan countries that now attract more and more Japanese tourists are the main reasons.
“20 years ago very few people were visiting these countries but now unfortunately Greece lost the competitive power against these countries” said the Ambassador of Japan.
Mr. Nishibayashi mentioned that last year we had a slight increase of Japanese tourists. “I think the number reached almost 20,000 but I don’t know this year.” As the Ambassador explained it was thanks to Mrs. Olga Kefaloyanni who used to be Minister of Tourism and who during her visit to Japan over three years ago promoted the Greek tourism.
“Unfortunately the Greek tourist office in Tokyo closed a couple of years ago due to the lack of finance and so the promotion is not big enough.”, said the Ambassador.
“No concrete plan has been made yet but I tried to do my best to promote tourism.” are the exact words of the Ambassador when theDiplomat.gr asked about the Alexis Tsipras’s government touristic plan.
A direct flight between Japan and Greece would bring a lot of Japanese tourists in our country, as Mr. Nishibayashi predicted.
“It is a bit expensive to come to Greece. In the case of Turkey we have some direct flights between Japan and Istanbul. On the other hand, in the case of Greece, – I don’t know why- but it’s too expensive to come here”, said the Japanese Ambassador.
Japanese Economy – Best practices for overcoming a recession
The Ambassador of Japan explained how the Japanese economy attempts a recovery after the Fukushima accident. “Mr Abe, the current Prime Minister came into the office just three years ago. He launched three big policies to boost the economy: aggressive monetary policy, flexible fiscal policy and gross strategy.”
Greeks in Japan
“I think Greek citizens living in Japan are having a very happy life there. The government of Japan has invited several Greek students in the scholarship programs provided by the Ministry of Education of Japan”, said Mr. Nishibayashi.
Living in Greece
“The number of Japanese citizens in Greece is not so big –
about 700 Japanese citizens are staying here. Most of them are Japanese women who have married Greek men and their kids attend the Greek school or international schools. Japanese school unfortunately closed about 10 years ago. One of my relatives she got married to a Greek man and now they are living in Nisiros -near Kos. They have a good life and they are running a hotel – restaurant.”
“We have contributed to a great project for the reconstruction of a monastery in Salamina. This project has been realized by the financial support from the Japanese government and Japanese private sector as well. I put a big importance on cultural change programs to promote our mutual understanding. Now in Japan since last week in Tokyo there is a big exhibition the Golden Legion that has just started. In this exhibition half of the articles on display are from various Greek museums.”
Maritime and shipbuilding
“Maritime sector is exceptional despite the crisis. Japanese ships are competitive to Korean made thanks to their hi-tech system” said the Ambassador.
Greek Japanese Association
“Greek Japanese Association in Greece will celebrate its 60th year anniversary this year. So we plan to conduct more cultural change programs to celebrate this anniversary. In May 2016 we are going to invite a very famous popular Japanese violinist as a sort of present for the anniversary”, Mr. Nishibayashi announced.