Credit: MECO

Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Economy reported on the final day of the official economic mission to Japan, on Thursday 13 June 2024.

The last day of the official economic mission to Japan chaired by Luxembourg’s Hereditary Grand Duke and led by the Minister of the Economy, SMEs, Energy and Tourism, Lex Delles, was mainly marked by the Luxembourg-Japan Business Forum and the signing of several cooperation agreements related to the space sector.

The day began with a bilateral meeting between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), in the presence of Minister Delles.

The Luxembourg-Japan Business Forum took place afterwards, organised by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and Luxembourg Trade and Invest, with the support of Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the Japanese agency responsible for promoting foreign trade, with the participation of Michiro Hara, Managing Director of Keidanren.

In his welcome speech, the Hereditary Grand Duke evoked the strong diplomatic ties between the two countries. In a constantly changing world, Japan and Luxembourg reaffirmed their commitment to the fundamental values ​​of democracy, the rule of law and multilateralism. More than ever, these values ​​are essential to foster cooperation and successfully address global challenges. In 2027, Japan and Luxembourg will celebrate the centenary of their bilateral relations, the ministry noted.

Minister Delles, for his part, emphasised the importance of economic relations between Luxembourg and Japan, the third largest trading partner in Asia. He then highlighted the main sectors of common interest to strengthen this collaboration, namely space technologies, and the data economy, in particular digital data related to health.

In his speech, Lex Delles said: "Japan and Luxembourg share common views and interests, both in the space field and the data economy, where collaboration is a key success factor. This is why I am delighted with the signing of the various cooperation agreements which marks an important step and will further strengthen our relations. By working together, we offer our industries the necessary framework for collaborative commercial and research projects and thus contribute mutually to the respective growth of our economies."

Carlo Thelen, CEO of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce then presented the Luxembourg economy and its assets. Sectoral workshops completed the event ,which brought together around 200 people. The first workshop focused on digital data management, particularly health-related data, while another workshop was held in parallel on the theme of space.

At the end of the opening session of the Business Forum, JAXA and LSA signed a cooperation agreement, aimed at exploring and facilitating collaboration in space projects of mutual interest, particularly in the areas of space exploration, supercomputing, mutual use of facilities and commercialisation.

This agreement is reinforced by the cooperation agreement that was signed at the government level on 11 June, which will catalyse and significantly deepen cooperation between the two countries in the field of space. It aims to further facilitate the research, exploration, development, and utilisation of space, by the two countries and by academic and research institutions and private sector space companies.

The first concrete project to implement this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is the letter of intent signed between LuxProvide and JAXA to formalize their collaboration in the fields of space, supercomputers, quantum and artificial intelligence. This aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, the search for joint solutions to common problems and the provision of better services to user communities supported by both organisations, thus creating more impact for the respective space ecosystems.

As Luxembourg’s National Day festivities approach, the official economic mission was also the occasion to organise an official reception, at the invitation of the Embassy of Luxembourg in close collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in Tokyo and in the presence of Kazuchika Iwata, Japanese Minister of State for Economy, Trade and Industry.

Several speakers took part to highlight the “excellent relations” between Japan and Luxembourg. In his speech, the Hereditary Grand Duke said: "During the audience with HM the Emperor, we were both delighted to see that these close ties will gain new momentum in the near future with the Osaka Expo next year and the centenary of our bilateral relations in 2027. One hundred years of mutual respect, cooperation and shared values ​​- a milestone that speaks volumes about the strength of our bond."

Minister Delles added he was particularly pleased with the important official announcements of the last few days, as part of the economic mission, including the conclusion of the air services agreement, which had been awaited for a very long time, the signing of the various cooperation agreements in the space sector and the announcement of the opening of a subsidiary in Luxembourg of the Japanese company Thermalytica. He then recalled that the next important milestone will be the Universal Exhibition in Osaka in 2025 and the centenary of diplomatic relations in 2027.

The afternoon was punctuated by two company meetings. Early in the afternoon, the delegation visited the space company Astroscale. Founded in Japan in 2013, Astroscale develops innovative solutions for servicing satellites in orbit, including debris removal, to create sustainable space systems and reduce the accumulation of debris in space. Astroscale also works on developing standards, regulations and incentives, in collaboration with government and commercial stakeholders, for the responsible use of space. As sustainability in space is also at the heart of the national strategy of the Luxembourg space sector, in particular through the development of support for activities related to in-orbit servicing, such as debris removal, a visit to Astroscale was made.

The delegation then visited Rakuten. Founded in 1997 in Tokyo, the Rakuten group is one of the world leaders in internet services, having initially made a name for itself as an online marketplace, competing with Amazon, according to the ministry. Rakuten has diversified its activities and now offers financial and telecommunications services, digital marketing solutions and logistics services. The group now has more than 30,000 employees and operates in 30 countries and regions. Present in Luxembourg since 2008, the group established its European headquarters, Rakuten Europe, there. In 2012, Rakuten chose Luxembourg as the location for its data centre for Europe. Since 2016, Rakuten has also offered financial services from Luxembourg through Rakuten Europe Bank.