Kenya and Japan have committed to strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries as they continue working on ways to balance the trade between them.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Tuesday hosted Japanese ambassador to Kenya Okaniwa Ken at Harambee House Annex where they discussed various modalities to improve the ties between the two nations.
Mr Gachagua said Kenya considers Japan a dependable partner reaching out to the Asian country to invest more in the country.
“We appreciate the support Japan has continued to offer us in different sectors. It is our intention as the government to strengthen the cordial relations which have existed since independence,” the DP said.
With the ravaging drought, which is expected to extend to the fifth consecutive year, the DP said they would appreciate more support from Japan especially towards programmes to mitigate its effects and combat climate change.
The DP told the ambassador to feel free to work with his office to deal with issues slowing their projects in the country. He said one of the roles assigned him by President William Ruto was to work with the foreign partners in a bid to ease interaction with them and quicken the government’s decision making on their issues.
“If there are any issues cutting across the ministries, we will be ready to coordinate and help sort them out,” he said.
Presently, Kenya exports Sh7.8 billion worth of products to Japan annually against Sh127 billion of imports to the country. The imbalance is one of the areas Kenya is working on as it seeks to expand markets for its agricultural products in Japan.
The DP challenged the ambassador to promote Kenya as a good tourist destination site among their people saying the number of tourists from Japan was still low.
“We have beautiful tourist sites, beaches and our people are hospitable,” said Mr Gachagua.
Mr Okaniwa said they will work closely with President William Ruto’s administration to boost the existing ties as they explore other areas of partnership.
He said Kenya had benefitted from a Sh3 billion assistance from Japan for the ongoing drought mitigation programmes the last one year.
“Kenya is an important partner in the East African region because of its stability and as the biggest economy in the region,” he said.
Other projects the Asian country has funded are the construction of Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga and the rehabilitation of Ahero Irrigation Scheme in Kisumu among other ongoing programmes.
He said the number of Japanese investors in Kenya has risen to 100 in the last five years, promising to push for more investments in the country.