Armenia Sees Japan as an Ally
There is a new movement in Yerevan to deepen and develop cultural diplomatic relations with TokyoMarch 20th, 2019
Armenia has long held a special affinity for Japan. Stemming from the centuries-old presence of Armenian executives throughout Asia, including a small but significant commercial elite in Singapore, Thailand and India, Japan was a key outpost for early Armenian diplomacy.
Japan’s pivotal position as the center of Armenian diplomacy in Asia continues. Armenian Ambassador Grant Pogosyan stands out by virtue of a rare combination of being both a professional diplomat and a local professor, with more than two decades of experience teaching at a university in Tokyo. Throughout the years, diplomatic, economic, cultural and commercial ties have consistently expanded, with two Armenian presidential and two foreign ministerial visits to Japan from 1999-2012, as well as several separate visits by the Armenian premier, various ministers and parliamentarians.
In recent years, official Japanese trips to Armenia included four visits by the parliamentary vice-ministers for foreign affairs, and one visit by the state minister for foreign affairs, as well as a high-profile visit by current Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in September 2018. Most fundamental driver of Armenia’s renewed engagement of Japan is rooted in a revised strategic vision that elevates attention to the importance of Asia as a source of new markets and investors for Armenia. This belated recognition of the importance of Asia as a strategic target is bolstered by a steady influx of Asian tourists to Armenia.
The signing of a new Japan-Armenia Investment Agreement in 2018 has also granted new impetus to the expansion of bilateral relations. The agreement offered most-favored-nation status, and it is also expected to encourage Japanese investment in Armenia’s growing information technology sector. It is this agreement, and its inherent focus on IT, that reveals the deeper strategy underlying Armenia’s view of Japan.