Prime Minister meets with his Japanese counterpart during official visit

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MTI/EPA/AFP pool/Jamanaka Toru

Following talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that Hungarian oil and gas company MOL and Japan Synthetic Rubber (JSR) have agreed to set up a joint venture to produce synthetic rubber in Tiszaújváros in north-eastern Hungary.

He pointed out that the new company would be 51% owned by JSR and 49% by MOL, adding that the new investment was expected to create 100 new jobs. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe highlighted the importance of business cooperation between Hungary and Japan, adding that both parties had confirmed their commitment to cooperating to promote an early conclusion of a free-trade agreement between the European Union and Japan.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is on a three-day official visit in Japan, also gave a lecture at Tokyo's Josai University on Thursday, where he stated that Central Europe's gates are wide open to Japanese investors.

MTI/EPA/AFP pool/Jamanaka Toru

In his lecture entitled Hungary and Europe in a changing world, he called Central Europe a competitive region which has coped with the crisis and is expected to become the driving force behind European growth. The region offers good opportunities for investors and occupies perhaps the best location within Europe in terms of logistics, he said.

Answering questions from the audience about whether Hungary might join the eurozone, Prime Minister Orbán said that the process could take up to three decades to complete, adding that countries should not join the eurozone before their per-capita economic output is above 90% of that of the zone's core countries, otherwise they would lose their ability to emerge from the economic crisis.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that EU member states should have the freedom to conclude economic policy free-trade agreements with countries outside the zone, adding that cooperation with Russia was also necessary. On another subject, he stated that the recent crisis has made it clear that "Europe must change and return to the traditions of labour and Christian culture".

After the lecture, leaders of the university announced the foundation of an Institute for Central European Studies, with Hungary’s Ambassador to Japan István Szerdahelyi as its honorary president; Prime Minister Orbán said that Hungary would delegate two professors to the new institute.

Later on Thursday morning, the Hungarian Prime Minister attended the opening ceremony of a Hungarian cultural and tourism information centre at the Hungarian embassy in Tokyo. Addressing the ceremony, also attended by Hungarian Minister for Human Resources Zoltán Balog and Noriko Mizuta, head of Josai University, he emphasised that Hungary had received 77,000 Japanese tourists last year, who spent a total of 153,000 guest nights in the country. The figures, which represent a 10% increase compared to the previous year, also indicate strengthening bilateral business ties, he noted.

Before the opening ceremony, Hungary's State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and External Economic Relations Péter Szijjártó signed a cooperation agreement with Japanese deputy economy minister Norihiko Ishiguro concerning renewable energy sources. The agreement also covers cooperation in training, technology, waste treatment and preventing harmful effects within the field of nuclear energy production.

(Prime Minister’s Office)

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