Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Yutaka Kikuta, on Tuesday, said the potentials in the Japan-Nigeria relationship were yet to be realised.
Kikuta said this in an interview, in Abuja, during a send-forth ceremony for six participants for the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative for Youth programme to Japan for master degree and internship program under the Japanese Government Official Development Assistance.
The programme is being spearheaded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Nigeria Office.
Kikuta said the six Nigerians would form a bridge, becoming ambassadors between Japan and Nigeria.
He said there were much potentials for development between both countries, adding that one of the issues on the table was to increase Nigeria’s interest in Japan.
Kikuta further said that the trade volume between Japan and Nigeria was relatively good and that the trade volume was in favour of Nigeria.
He also revealed that Nigeria was one of the few countries that Japan had trade balance with in red ink.
Although he could not put a figure to the volume of trade, Kikuta however said the most commodity from Nigeria to Japan was liquid natural gas.
“I will say that there is much potential for development. I will say potential because it is not realized yet. So, we have lot and lot of things to do.
“And one of the things is to increase Nigeria’s interest on Japan and verse versa, I would like to send a positive message from the Nigerian side to the Japanese people,” Kikuta said.
Speaking further, Kikuta singled out the economy as one of the areas of cooperation between both countries, adding that he was of the firm believe that Japanese companies’ activities were receiving much encouragement in the country.
“I have the firm believe that they are encouraging Japanese companies’ activities in Nigeria. After all, for the sake of Nigeria development,” Kikuta added.
Kikuta also said apart from the traditional areas of cooperation such as natural resources and agriculture, many Japanese companies were keen in expanding their business interest in Nigeria.
Areas of interest to Japanese companies, according to Kikuta, included shopping, information technology, security management, services and manufacturing.
“So, I see more diversified interest on the Japanese companies,” Kikuta further said.
Speaking earlier, the Chief Representative of JICA in Nigeria, Komori Katsutoshi, said the Japanese government budgeted between ten to twenty million dollars for its developmental activities in Nigeria annually.
Komori said JICA’s priority areas in Nigeria included the power sector, health sector, promotion of infrastructure, water sanitation and waste management.
“Our annual budget for this country is in 10 to 20 million US dollars,” Komori said.
On his part, the President of the Nigeria-Japan Alumni Association, Prof. Mohammed Dauda, said the ABE initiative was a commendable one.
“This is a very beautiful initiative by the Japanese government to institute what they call ABE initiative. It is about human resource development.
“The basic philosophy behind it is to see that there is strong understanding between Japanese and Nigeria businessmen, there is a strong understanding between Japanese and Nigeria government in their daily dealings, particularly, sustainable economic development,” Dauda said.