Japan's Ambassador Susumu Hasegawa on Tuesday met the new Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to congratulate him on establishing the seventh cabinet.
During his four-day visit to the Kurdistan Region, Ambassador Hasegawa extended his government's warm wishes for a successful new term and discussed potential areas for enhanced cooperation with Japan. He also briefed the Prime Minister on a number of service projects that the Japanese government is involved in through the Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) soft loan programme, including the fields of energy, electricity, agriculture and irrigation.
Prime Minister Barzani thanked the Ambassador for his visit and for Japan's ongoing partnership with Kurdistan through the initiatives of JICA and other Japanese organisations and companies.
The Prime Minister briefed the Ambassador on the initiatives and priorities of the seventh cabinet, including: solving the outstanding issues with Baghdad, providing higher standards of services for the people of the Kurdistan Region, and improving relations with Kurdistan's neighbours and the international community as a whole.
Prime Minister Barzani expressed his hope that Japan would raise its level of diplomatic representation in the Kurdistan Region, to further strengthen mutual relations and help facilitate the investment of Japanese businesses in Kurdistan.
The Ambassador also met with Minister Falah Mustafa, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Head of Foreign Relations, to discuss a Japanese-funded programme with UNESCO which is planned to be launched later this year. The initiative is designed to help fight youth unemployment in Kurdistan through enhanced and specialised education and training programmes.
Ambassador Hasegawa said, "We hope that by working with the KRG Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, we can help to reduce unemployment and ensure that the youth of Kurdistan are more engaged."
Minister Mustafa welcomed the initiative, hoping that it will help in the KRG's efforts to reduce unemployment and help promote private sector growth.
"Our government believes in empowering the private sector and in encouraging our youth to explore the most viable employment opportunities in Kurdistan, and I am confident that this programme will help us in that endeavour," he said.
Minister Mustafa also discussed the possibility of more exchange of visits between Japan and Kurdistan in order to enhance economic and cultural ties between their respective peoples.
As an official government aid organization, JICA established its presence in Erbil in 2009. JICA's mission is to promote international cooperation and assist in the development of the global economy, by supporting the socioeconomic development, recovery and economic stability of developing regions. Over the past few years, they have provided soft loans, technical and development assistance and equipment to various institutions in Kurdistan, and they have provided training programmes for the KRG and Iraq as a whole.