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30 Sep 2009

Japan: Minister Arcand is the first foreign dignitary received by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Minister Pierre Arcand trying out Mitsubishi’s new i MiEV. Photo: John McInnes

On mission to Japan, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie Pierre Arcand met with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Koichi Takemasa. This marks Mr. Takemasa’s first meeting with a foreign diplomat since the election of the new Hatoyama government on August 30, 2009.

After the meeting, Minister Arcand remarked that “Québec and Japan are on the same wavelength when it comes to fighting climate change. Québec’s and Japan’s respective leadership and initiatives in this regard open the door to a number of cooperation possibilities.” The Minister seized the opportunity to invite Japan’s high-level leaders to make an official visit to Québec while attending the G8 Summit scheduled for June 25-27, 2010 in Muskoka, Ontario.

On the economic front, Minister Arcand met with executives of around ten Japanese companies with operations in Québec to reassure them about the economic situation and guarantee the continuation of their activities in Québec. “The heads of the Japanese companies involved greatly appreciated the meetings,” noted Minister Arcand, adding that he felt confident about the discussions. Some fifty Japanese companies operating in Québec provide jobs for over 6,500 Quebecers. Minister Arcand also supported the efforts of a dozen Québec companies attending the Tokyo Game Show. His meeting with executives from the Digital Content Association of Japan resulted in further strengthening the collaboration agreement that has been in place since 2003 with Québec’s Alliance Numérique digital industry network.

“Japan offers enormous potential for R&D collaboration in new technologies. For every sector where Québec stands out for its unparalleled expertise, Japan has complementary know-how and it would be in our best interests to take advantage of it,” said Minister Arcand.

From the Minister’s participation in forums with Japanese political, academic and business community spokespersons, it was clearly apparent that Japan is keenly interested in Québec’s leadership and positions regarding sustainable development and fighting climate change. In addition to water management, Québec can provide expertise in several scientific sectors, particularly forest management and biomass. “Like Québec, Japan is known for its tremendous capacity for innovation and robust investment in research. It is therefore in our common interest to encourage exchanges among our respective research institutions,” added the Minister.

During his visit, Minister Arcand also focused on Japan’s technological innovations in the non-polluting vehicles sector. He was briefed on Mitsubishi’s latest advances. The company has developed one of the first EV models slated for mass production, the “i MiEV” (i Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle), which is already being sold in Japan.

Further enhancing Québec’s strong cultural ties with Japan was another mission goal. In addition to opening a Québec film festival and inaugurating the Québec Artists-in-Residence Studio in Tokyo, Mr. Arcand visited Hamamatsu International Mosaicultures, the largest horticultural competition of its kind. Over 80 cities from 30 countries are participating in the 4th edition of this international event where Montréal is exhibiting a spectacular floral installation inspired by Frédéric Back’s film The Man who Planted Trees.

Québec-Japan Relations
Québec Government Office in Tokyo
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