KIGALI - The government of Japan will next year open a diplomatic mission in Kigali, Rwanda. This was revealed yesterday by Japanese State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Seiko Hashimoto, during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters.
Dr. Seiko Hashimoto is in Rwanda as part of the 18-person Japanese public and private sector delegation.
“Rwanda has made steady progress under the leadership of President Kagame and we are planning to open our diplomatic mission here, in January (2010), and further strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Hashimoto said in her translated statement during a joint Minaffet-Minicom-RDB organized press conference.
The group noted that this was among the main reasons they picked Rwanda as their only destination for a reconnaissance tour ahead of the upcoming Africa-Asia Business Forum (AABF), scheduled for Kampala, Uganda next week.
The group is in the country to study areas of cooperation with major emphasis on investment in the tourism sector and other investment opportunities.
Minicom Permanent Secretary, Antoine Ruvebana, revealed that a Japanese team would arrive in August to start preparations for setting up the Japanese embassy in Kigali.
Currently Rwanda-Japan interests are handled by the Japanese embassy in Nairobi. Briefing the press, Rosette Rugamba, Rwanda Development Board’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Tourism, said that it was a big opportunity for Rwanda to showcase her investment potential.
Visiting Rwanda for the very first time, Emon Tanaka, President of a Japanese private corporation – Planet Tours Service Co. Ltd, said: “After the presentation made by the RDB Tourism board, I am very much impressed.”
Long flights and time spent in transit was pointed out as the major obstacle for Japanese tourists to visit Rwanda.
Rugamba acknowledged the 30 hours hurdle saying,“This is a home work for us, we acknowledge it is a challenge to get more direct flights and this is something that government is working on.” She noted that Rwandan products were not limited but rather, the challenge is marketing them.
Over 20 million Japanese tourists leave Japan annually and, 1,400 of them visited Rwanda last year.