(L-R): Minister Franz Fayot; Carlo Thelen, Chamber of Commerce; Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation; Takuya Yamazaki, FG at JETRO; Ambassador Jiro Okuyama; Credit: Chronicle.lu

On Monday 3 October 2022, a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) was signed between the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Luxinnovation, and between JETRO and the Chamber of Commerce Luxembourg.

The ceremony was attended by a number of dignitaries, including Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation, and Carlo Thelen, Director General of the Chamber of Commerce Luxembourg.

The signing ceremony was hosted by the Embassy of Japan and took place at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to Luxembourg, HE Jiro Okuyama; the memorandum was signed by Takuya Yamazaki, the Director General of JETRO’s Brussels office, Sasha Baillie and Carlo Thelen.

The objective of the memorandum is to establish a cooperative framework and to strengthen economic ties between Luxembourg and Japan. JETRO is a Japanese government-related organisation that promotes trade and investment. 

Ambassador Okuyama welcomed everyone and stressed that it was a great honour to host the signing ceremony which will increase co-operation between both countries. He stated that both agreements are to assist existing companies as well as start-ups. 

He referred to his impending departure from Luxembourg on 14 October and recalled the planned economic and other visits between the two countries that had been scheduled over the past couple of years but which had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions; however, he hopes that such visits can now be planned to take place over the next couple of years, although he would not be drawn on names of those who would visit the Grand Duchy. He also referred to the sake exhibition coming in 2025 and the imminent centenary celebration of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Minister Franz Fayot stated it was a pleasure to be in attendance; he commented that Luxembourg and Japan have a long and rich relationship and pointed out the link between Luxembourg's Grand Ducal family and Japan's imperial family. He also recalled the 2017 state visit when Grand Duke Henri and Princess Alexandra visited Japan.

He mentioned that the two countries already gave a lot in common, e.g. Fanuc and Rakuten bank, and also mentioned that others are to be set up soon in the space, tech and food sectors. 

He stated that Luxembourgers are fond of Japanese cuisine and sake; and commented that the signing of the MoC is an opportunity for the export of Luxembourg wines and other products to Japan.

He mentioned that we are about to embark on a new era, referencing the World Expo, Osska 2025, in which Luxembourg will participate (stressing that the Grand Duchy does not always exhibit in all world expos). The pavilion will reflect the circular economy as all materials will be reused afterwards, another step to cement the relationship between the two countries.

Speaking directly to the ambassador, he referred to his arrival during the pandemic (just like he did himself), and who is about to leave his position in the Grand Duchy; he thanked him for his personal commitment, and for working together, referring to Japanese cuisine and the tea ceremony in which he participated.

Sasha Baillie spoke after the ceremony and described Japan as a very important business partner for Luxembourg. She referred to a sustainable, digital economy and described Luxembourg as an excellent springboard for doing business with the EU. She referred to Jethro as an ideal partner and is a perfect match for Luxinnovation.

Carlo Thelen thanked Jetro and the Japanese embassy for enabling this agreement which will create new opportunities for Luxembourg companies, mentioning specifically wines, beers and chocolates. He recalled the pop-up store of Luxembourg produce during the 2017 official visit. He also referred to a new sake being produced in Luxembourg. He wished the Japanese ambassador all the best in his new posting in Jordan.

Takayao Yamasaki of Jethro thanked everyone for attending the signing ceremony, mentioning the three signatories as well as the embassy of Japan. He said that the signing has been in a very timely manner as Japan is in a stage of economic recovery. He also highlighted the trends of digital transformation and green transformation. The MoC will give Japanese companies access to resources and business opportunities. He predicts a strong growth in investment between the two countries