Shinzo Abe arrived in Cuba on Thursday for the first visit to the nation by a Japanese prime minister, saying he wants to “open a new page” in relations.
Abe met with Cuban President Raul Castro during a visit that came after Tokyo’s close ally Washington restored ties with the communist nation last year.
“I sincerely hope my stay here becomes an opportunity to open a new page in the relationship of friendship between both nations,” Abe said in an interview published in the Cuban Communist Party’s official newspaper, Granma.
He also met Raul’s brother and former Cuban president Fidel Castro to discuss nuclear proliferation.
Abe and Fidel Castro “discussed the complexities and hazards affecting the world and the need to strengthen efforts toward the elimination of nuclear weapons and preservation of peace,” an official statement that was read on television said.
Cuba is one of the few countries that maintains relationships with North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions are considered one of Japan’s biggest security threats.
Abe also called for “open dialogue” to stimulate trade and investment, development cooperation and tourism.
The head of the world’s third-largest economy was received with military honors at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, where he had a private meeting with Raul Castro.
Later, he placed a floral tribute at the monument to Cuban independence activist Jose Marti.
Japan was Cuba’s second-largest trading partner between 1970 and 1985, but the relationship deteriorated drastically as the Cuban economy took a hit from the breakup of the Soviet Union, a key ally, in the early 1990s. Trade totaled about US$35 million in 2014.
On Monday, Cuba signed a debt restructuring deal with Japan, according to which Tokyo will forgive part of Cuba’s debt, leaving it to pay US$606 million.
Of that, US$249 million is scheduled to be deposited in an investment fund for Japanese businesses in Cuba, the Japanese government said.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies