This is a comprehensive roadmap to expand and strengthen economic, scientific and cultural ties with Japan by investing tens of millions of shekels over the next three years. This cooperation is part of Israeli efforts to develop markets in China, India and Japan, as well as in Latin America and Africa.

The plan is based on protocols signed in Tokyo last May by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The plan is based on identifying areas of interest common to both countries and is designed to enable the full utilization of the latent economic potential for the Israeli economy.

The goal of this plan is to increase annual exports to Japan to $1.1 billion by 2020. That represents an increase of 50 % from the present exports. It was noted that Israeli exports to Japan were about $720 million in 2013 which represents just 0.1% of Japan’s total imports.

In recent years, the amount of Israeli exports to Japan has stagnated despite significant growth in other regions of the world. Currently, exports to Japan constitute only around 1.3% of overall Israeli commercial exports. The government’s goal is to increase exports to Japan by 50 percent by 2020 to approximately $1.1 billion in annual exports. An additional government target is to increase the number of Israeli exporters to Japan, which export over $500,000 a year, to 33 percent by 2020, to 210 such exporters. Approximately 9% of the Israeli exporters are responsible for approximately 75% of total exports, indicating that diversification is essential.

Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized, “The State of Israel must vary the markets in which we are active. In the last two years, I have met with the leaders of China, Japan and India as part of a comprehensive policy of turning to major markets including Latin America and Africa…Deepening trade ties with Japan contains several advantages for the Israeli economy … There is demand in Japan for Israeli technologies and know-how which have yet to realize their market potential,”

The plan includes the opening of an Israeli trade office in Osaka, in addition to the trade office presently in Tokyo, increasing the number of commercial attaches in Tokyo, increasing Israeli companies’ exposure to Japanese firms and vice-versa; expanding the Economy Ministry Chief Scientist’s activity in Japan, and enlarging the India-China Fund so as to include Japan. The two sides will also work on an agreement to encourage and protect investments and to increase joint research grants by 50 % in 2015, including in the field of space cooperation.

The plan provides for opening a trade office in Osaka staffed by two advisers which will work towards promoting broader access to Israeli industry in the Kansai region. The region of Kansai alone has a gross domestic product of approximately $1 trillion and many of Japan’s largest companies are located there.
According to this plan, Israel’s tourism ministry will work to increase the number of Japanese tourists by 45% by 2017 and the Transportation and Road Safety Ministry will increase cooperation with Japan in various transportation technologies and infrastructures with emphasis on public transportation.

The Japanese economy is the third largest economy in the world (after China and the US), with a 2013 Gross Domestic Product of approximately $4.7 trillion and the potential for trade is enormous. Israeli exports to Japan are relatively varied and the leading sectors are machines and machine tools, electronic equipment, optical machines and tools, medical devices, chemical products and processed food products.
It should be noted that political ties between Israel and Japan have become significantly closer in the past year. There has been an increase in the frequency of official visits between the two countries.

Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Japan this past May as a guest of Japanese Prime Minister. Since the visit, there has been an increase in Japanese interest in cooperation and investments in Israel. Last November, Prime Minister’s Office Director General Harel Locker led an economic delegation to Japan consisting of economic leaders as well as government, and academic and economic organizations. Locker delivered to his Japanese counterpart an invitation from Prime Minister Netanyahu for Prime Minister Abe to visit Israel. In July 2014, the Japanese Economy Minister led a delegation of industrialists to Israel.

There is demand in Japan for Israel technologies and know-how which have yet to realize their market potential, especially in the following in the fields of pharmacology and medical equipment, cyber and information security, agricultural technology, and green energy in the automotive industry. Increasing the number of companies marketing overseas and varying the marketing sectors will lead to a wider diffusion of risks in Israel’s foreign trade.

In the framework of Sunday’s decision, a follow-up team – led by the Foreign Ministry Director General – will be appointed. The staff work for preparing the aforesaid roadmap was led by Prime Minister’s Office Deputy Director General Yossi Katribas.