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Four enterprising Bahrainis have been busy exploring an up-and-coming region of Japan to discover opportunities for collaboration between the kingdom and Japan.
In a first-of-its-kind exploratory trip, the Bahrain Embassy in Japan took Shaikh Khalid Ahmed Ateyatalla Al-Khalifa, Sara Mahmood, Fatima Ebrahim Abdulrasool and Walaa Mohamed Al-Malki around the Yamanashi prefecture in Japan to help them learn more about the cultural and economic features of the area.
“The main aim of this trip was to introduce the region to our students and to have the opportunity to exchange the ideas between our students and the people of Yamanashi,” Ahmed Aldoseri, Bahrain’s ambassador to Japan, told GulfWeekly.
“The Yamanashi prefecture is known for its textiles, fruits, handcrafted jewellery and washi (which is a type of traditional Japanese paper).
“Its capital, Kofu City, is known as the ‘City of Gems’ and is Japan’s primary producer of jewellery and polished crystals.
“Given the superior quality of Bahraini pearls, there is an opportunity for Bahrain’s pearl industry to establish business relations of mutual benefit.”
The region also offers excellent access to the machinery and electronics industries, including electronic components, semiconductors and robots, making Yamanashi one of the largest mechanical electronics industry concentrations in Japan.
Trade between Bahrain and Japan began in 1934 when the first oil shipment headed for Yokohama.
The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries has been exceeding $1 billion annually in recent years, according to Ahmed.
In addition, over the last 20 years, a number of Bahraini students have gone to Japan as part of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) scholarship programme.
Fatima is one such student who is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Tsukuba’s graduate school of systems and information engineering.
“On our tour, I was delighted to view the scenic and tranquil Yamanashi, which is famous for the farming of delicious fruits such as grapes, plums, and peaches,” she added.
“I was intrigued by the fact that Yamanashi is not only characterised by its close proximity to Japan’s most famous mountain, Mount Fuji, but the crafts and precious stone cutting was really impressive.
“We were taken to a variety of institutions specialized in jewellery and stone crafting such as museums, educational schools, and workshops.
“We also paid a visit to TEPCO Konekurayama Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant followed by a visit to Otsuki station where we explored a train capable of reaching 500 km/h.”
34-year-old Walaa, a senior economist in Bahrain’s National Oil & Gas Authority (Noga), sees an opportunity for Bahrain to adapt some of Yamanashi’s solar energy advancements while also helping talented Bahrainis learn more about the jewellery business from their counterparts in Japan.
Sara, 17, who is currently taking a gap year to study Japanese, might be amongst the first of this wave, as she is considering joining the Yamanashi Prefectural Institute of Gemology and Jewellery Art.
Shaikh Khalid, 25, who is currently completing his master’s degree in Asian Pacific relations at Waseda University in Tokyo was intrigued by the local education and wants to explore creating a joint programme between the university there and the ones in Bahrain.