Belfast Telegraph

Robinson and McGuinness focusing on Japanese investment

by david elliott

The First and Deputy First Minister have kicked off a four-day "business mission" to Japan with a meeting with the country's Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo.

The visit follows an invitation from Mr Abe at the G8 Summit in Fermanagh last summer.

It will be followed by a series of meetings with other politicians and current and potential inward investors to Northern Ireland.

Current investors include IT firm Fujitsui and tobacco company JTI and the ministers will be hoping to persuade some of the visitors to October's investment conference to make a commitment to Northern Ireland.

"Japan is one of the world's leading economies, however, Northern Ireland has a lot to offer," First Minister Peter Robinson said.

"Today's meeting underlines our commitment to develop and strengthen our relationship with Japan.

"We are determined to explore all areas where we can both benefit with a particular focus on our economy, education and cultural links."

And he was quick to explain why the trip had been arranged.

"One of the key objectives of our Programme for Government 2011-15 is to grow the Northern Ireland economy and tackle disadvantage," he said.

"We consider this can be achieved by promoting our capabilities internationally and developing mutually beneficial relationships with targeted countries, regions and international organisations."

The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "We had a very positive meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and discussed Japan's significant contribution to our economy.

"Japanese companies employ over 2,500 people here and their growth and longevity is testimony to the Japanese culture and commitment to long-term sustainable investments.

"Forging further links with the Japanese business community, attracting new inward investment and realising greater growth and two-way business development exchanges between our two countries is an important priority to help grow our global competitiveness.

"The meeting gave us the opportunity to talk about the development of investment, cultural and educational links."

Belfast Telegraph