His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia made international headlines when he and his massive delegation of Saudi high princes, staff and vehicles landed in Malaysia. On Sunday, the large party arrived in Japan for a four-day visit on a seven-country month long tour of Asia. This is the first visit of a Saudi royal to Japan in 46 years.
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan and King Salman met at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday. Here, the Emperor conferred on King Salman a Daisy High Medal during the reception.
The Saudi Press Agency said that this medal was given in appreciation for the King serving as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.” The Emperor also held a luncheon in his honour.
King Salman and Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, met on Monday where they discussed strategic and economic bilateral ties between their countries. The Prime Minister has asked for the King’s support in listing Saudi Aramco on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. They also agreed to launch a ‘feasibility study’ for establishing economic zones in the Arabic country to attract Japanese investors. They would ease customs procedures and regulations.
These sets of reforms, called Vision 2030, were agreed upon by the King’s son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman last August; he also serves as Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister. This vision would yield significant economic benefits for Japan.
Like the United States, Japan is also heavily supplied with crude oil by Saudi Arabia. The Arabic country is seeking to reduce its economic dependency on oil as crude oil prices have dropped. It wishes to accomplish this by structural reform and through the partial privatisation of state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco. After his business in Japan concludes, King Salman and his entourage will travel to China on Wednesday.