Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade decorated Yoshio Sato, head of the European committee of Japanese business federation Keidanren, with the Order of Merit of Hungary, Knight’s Cross, in Budapest on Tuesday. In his address at the ceremony, Péter Szijjártó said Hungary and Japan were “entering a new era of ties with many opportunities”, adding that “such reliable partnerships are especially important in the current, difficult economic situation in Europe.”
The Japanese federation has been instrumental in “building a fair picture of Hungary and promoting investment opportunities” in the country, Szijjártó said in his laudation. Keidanren is an umbrella for some 1,500 Japanese companies, 108 trade federations, and all 47 regional economic organisations of Japan, Szijjártó said. Concerning the global economic situation, Szijjártó said the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine were widening the gap between East and West, “while cooperation is needed more than ever.” While 15 years ago 80% of the investments worldwide were financed from western capital and 20% came from the East, the ratio has now been reversed, he insisted. “No wonder Europe is fighting for investments by large Eastern companies,” the minister added. Szijjártó called the government’s Eastern opening strategy one of the most successful schemes of the past 12 years, and said Hungary’s trade turnover with countries in the East had increased by 49% since 2010, adding that the largest annual FDI had come from the East in the past three years. Cooperation with Japan has largely contributed to that trend, he said.
The Hungarian government currently has six strategic partners from Japan, and Japanese companies are the seventh largest investment community in the country, Szijjártó said, adding that some 200 Japanese companies in Hungary employed a total 30,000 people. The turnover of bilateral trade increased by 20% last year, while the Hungarian state contributed to 35 investment projects, Szijjártó said. Twenty-six Japanese companies in Hungary saved 17,000 jobs through their investments during the years of the pandemic, he added.