In 1882, the then newly-crowned Serbian King Milan Obrenovic sent letters of friendship to the rulers of many countries. One of those letters found its way to Japan’s Emperor Meiji in Tokyo, marking the first diplomatic correspondence between the two countries. Nearly a century and a half later, the respect, friendship and cooperation have only grown stronger between them
To mark the 140th anniversary of bilateral relations between Japan and Serbia, GMI POST met with Her Excellency Aleksandra Kovac, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia in Tokyo, to discuss the current state of affairs between the two countries and the future of bilateral ties.
“I see ourselves as long-time friends that are growing together,” Kovac said, as she highlighted the increasing cooperation in the political and economic spheres through the years. According to the ambassador, this is evident in the increasing frequency of state visits between the two countries in recent decades, the most notable of which was the late prime minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Serbia in 2018 wherein he launched The Western Balkan Initiative.
Today, Japan is the fifth-largest foreign investor in Serbia. Kovac identified car parts industry, pharmaceuticals, chemical industry, food, electronics etc. as the biggest recipients of Japanese investment, with start-ups, digital industry and green energy as great potentials for bigger Japanese presence.
In the diplomatic sphere, Kovac shared that Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, during her visit to attend the state funeral of slain prime minister Shinzo Abe, met with her counterpart, Fumio Kishida, and with Minister of Digital Affairs Taro Kono to explore opportunities to digitalize government processes.
“Serbia is building a strong image of a country with thriving economic opportunities and being responsive to the new trends,” said the ambassador, who pointed out Serbia could easily innovate and develop with the help of Japan. “Both Serbia and Japan are looking towards the future and thinking of ways to prosper and contribute to the global community.”