By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday, October 19th, in a joint press conference with Brazil President Michel Temer, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that he views Brazil as a large investment opportunity for Japan. The two leaders were meeting at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Tokyo to discuss establishing a formal partnership to strengthen trade and investment between the two countries.
“Brazil offers Japan a chance for a big investment opportunity,” Prime Minister Abe told reporters at the joint news conference. “Brazil is a country of two hundred million people and represents a huge market.”
For Temer, the trip to Asia was a part of the new president’s initiative to attract investors to a country in the midst of a deep recession. It was the first visit by a Brazilian president to Japan in eleven years. Impeached former President Dilma Rouseff had twice canceled trips to the country during her tenure.
“There are about seven hundred Japanese companies in Brazil,” said President Temer. “Therefore, I stress again that one of the central goals of our presence in Japan, although only for a single day, is exactly to enhance and encourage these commercial and industrial relations between Brazil and Japan.”
The meeting with Prime Minister Abe capped a busy day for President Temer. Earlier in the day, he visited current Japanese Emperor Akihito to discuss the Japanese community in Brazil and Brazilians in Japan. President Temer also met with Japan’s Minister of Economy and several Japanese business associations.
“We are here to unveil a new Brazil,” President Temer told reporters at Wednesday’s press conference. Referring to the country’s recent political and financial turmoil, Temer said, “We want to draw foreign investment, honor contracts, provide legal certainty, and show, also in our visits abroad, our complete institutional stability.”
President Temer emphasized that he also hopes to expand Brazil’s exports to Japan. Brazilian exports to Japan fell to almost US$8.5 billion in 2015 from some US$10 billion the previous year.
According to the Japan External Trade Organization, Japanese direct investment in Brazil amounted to nearly US$2.9 billion in 2015, a drop of US$900 million from 2014.