"Japan is interested in promoting business relations between Japanese and Israeli companies," Japan's Deputy Ambassador Kuninori Matsuda said at a press conference on Monday.
Matsuda said that this was indicated in Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso's visit to Israel last week, when he met with a number of representatives of Israeli companies such as Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd and a line of high-tech companies.
The deputy ambassador said that following these meetings, his government would attempt to mediate and bring together Japanese and Israeli companies from the private sector in the fields of space research, medical equipment and agricultural development.
"I am aware of the fact that Israel is very interested in marketing defense products abroad. The Japanese military is currently based on local production and import from the United States, but we are examining purchase possibility from alternative weapon sources," he said.
"The main reason for our increased interest in Israel is political," Matsuda said. "Because of the new government in the West Bank (headed by Salam Fayyad) we see a chance for a peace process and are interested in contributing to its advancement. We are also aware of the fact that an improved political situation in the region will create a better atmosphere for economic investments."
In an attempt to encourage ecnomic cooperation between private companies, Matsuda said, "We have cancelled some of our visa restrictions on Israelis to Japan, in order to allow Israel businesspeople to come to Japan. Furthermore, we are attempting Israeli PR in Japan. Most Japanese know about the conflict between Israel and its neighbors, and few are aware that as a Jewish country there is a very high level of scientific and technological development here.
"We are trying to increase the extent of tourism between the two countries, and for that purpose we are trying to promote a route of direct flights between Japan and Israel, in contrast to the situation today.
"To Egypt and Turkey, which also suffer from terror problems, 100,000 Japanese tourists arrive each year, while less than 20,000 Japanese tourists come to Israel each year. We want to increase this number since tourism encourages tourism on the other side and also encourages business ties between the countries," Matsuda said.