BUENOS AIRES: After the APEC summit in Lima, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe heads to Argentina on Monday to bolster bilateral trade and investment ties with Latin America’s third largest economy.
It will be the first visit to Buenos Aires by a Japanese prime minister in 57 years—the last one to make the trip was Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, in 1959.
Japanese companies have a big presence in the South American nation especially in the automobile industry—with Honda, Toyota and Nissan.
The Toyota plant alone produces 20 percent of the vehicles sold in Argentina.
This is a big turning point for Japan. It is forecasting a surge in investment in Argentina, from $100 million a year now, to at least $2 billion annually for three years, according to the ambassador of Japan to Argentina.
While visits by prominent international leaders were infrequent during the presidency of Nestor and then Cristina Kirchner (2003-2015), heads of state and government have been flocking since Mauricio Macri took office in December 2015.
Prior to Abe, French President Francois Hollande, his US counterpart Barack Obama, Italian leader Mateo Renzi and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Buenos Aires this year.
The head of the Japanese government will be received by center-right president Mauricio Macri and will meet with business leaders and representatives of the local Japanese community in Argentina, which numbers around 65,000.
Prior to attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Abe was the first leader to meet with US President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday in New York. Abe called Trump “a leader in whom I can have great confidence.”
Japan is one of Washington’s closest allies, but Trump alarmed Tokyo during the campaign by musing about pulling the thousands of US troops from the region, and suggesting that officially pacifist Japan may need nuclear weapons. AFP