As Nigeria celebrates 60 years since the attainment of independence in 1960, the nation is also celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations with Japan.
The Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Nigeria in Japan, Tope Elias-Fatile, said this in his message to mark Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary on Thursday in Abuja.
Elias-Fatile said that the Embassy and Nigerians in Japan were celebrating both occasions and therefore, congratulated both Nigerians and Japanese on the celebrations.
“On behalf of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I congratulate Nigerians in Japan on the 60th Independence Anniversary of our beloved country.
“This year also marks the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Japan. For this reason, 2020 is a significant year to both countries.
“We are celebrating the anniversaries at a challenging period globally occasioned by the devastating effects of Coronavirus pandemic with adverse impact on economic and other activities across nations,” Elias-Fatile said.
The envoy expressed the hope that trade relations between both countries would improve post-COVID-19, noting that the pandemic gravely hindered a couple of collaborations scheduled by both countries for 2020.
According to him, just as President Muhammadu Buhari said while addressing the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, the pandemic has devastated the world economy and strained the capabilities of the health system of many countries.
Elias-Fatile pointed out that some of the collaborations hindered by the pandemic in 2020 included: the Second Edition of the Annual Seminar for Japanese Companies and Captains of Industry on the economic and trade environment in Nigeria.
“We commenced preparations for a Trade Mission from Japan to Nigeria, which was scheduled for October.
`Both countries also commenced preparations for the 9th Session of Nigeria-Japan Special Partnership Forum (NJSPF), scheduled for June in Tokyo.
“However, these and other trade and economic-related events scheduled for the year were postponed because of Covid-19.”
He added that in spite of the current challenges, Nigeria and Japan still enjoyed improvements in trade and economic relations, noting that the number of Japanese companies in Nigeria had grown from 32 in 2017 to 43 today.
The envoy said that the Japanese companies were engaged in different sectors, including power generation, transmission and distribution, agriculture, machinery, automobile, manufacturing, engineering, electronics, infrastructure, food and seasoning.
“Although we have not been able to build substantially on the gains we garnered in 2019, the Embassy is undeterred. We believe that Nigeria and Japan will overcome COVID-19 and come out of this challenging period stronger.
“Therefore, we look forward with great optimism to actualise the initiatives we have in the pipeline and consolidate on the achievements we recorded in 2019/2020.
“As soon as the situation begins to normalise, we shall take steps to pursue Nigerian-Japan relations with vigour and resolute determination through robust engagements in economic and trade activities.
“We shall continue to bolster the networks of trade and economic activities between relevant actors and stakeholders from both countries,” Elias-Fatile said.
He urged all Nigerians residing in Japan to continue to serve as good ambassadors of their country and to deepen their partnership and collaboration with the embassy in the task of boosting relations between Nigeria and Japan.
According to him, the embassy remains resolutely committed to this objective as we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of our country’s independence and 60 years of Nigeria-Japan relations.