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Politics

Business leaders to tag along on Abe's Mideast tour

TOKYO -- Representatives from key Japanese companies and business organizations will accompany Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his tour of the Middle East this month to strengthen Japan's economic ties with the region.

     Abe will visit three countries and Palestinian territories on the Jan. 16-21 trip. Executives from nearly 30 trading houses, general contractors and other entities will travel to Israel and Egypt with the prime minister, while representatives from 20 or so will go with him to Jordan.

     The government is compiling a list of interested companies. Trading house Toyota Tsusho and the Japan External Trade Organization plan to send officials on the trip.

     Abe will speak at an economic seminar in Israel to promote Japanese businesses and their technological prowess. The two countries had agreed to boost cooperation on joint industrial research and development, science and technology and food culture during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Japan in May 2014. Abe hopes that taking top electronics manufacturers and food companies along on his tour will help advance these goals.

     The delegation will also support Japanese businesses eyeing a contract for subway construction in Cairo, the Egyptian capital.

     Japanese companies were involved in some 9.3 trillion yen ($77.2 billion) of infrastructure projects overseas in 2013, according to the Cabinet Secretariat -- a tripling from the year before. Many business leaders have accompanied Abe on official trips since he took office in December 2012, and the trend could help Japanese companies find new opportunities and markets abroad.

     The prime minister is also visiting the region as a way of supporting U.S. President Barack Obama, who wants to promote stability there. Abe will hold various summits throughout the tour, calling for steps to curb the Islamic State militants rapidly making gains in Syria and elsewhere, as well as for peace in the Middle East.

(Nikkei)

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