Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan arrives in Tokyo for four-day introductory visit

SINGAPORE - Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan arrived in Tokyo on Sunday (April 24) for an introductory visit that also marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Japan.

On the four-day visit which will end on Wednesday (April 27), Dr Balakrishnan will call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement on Sunday evening.

He will be hosted to dinner by his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, and will also meet other Cabinet ministers as well as political and business leaders, the ministry said.

Dr Balakrishnan will deliver a keynote address at the 11th Japan-Singapore Symposium on Tuesday (April 26) - exactly 50 years to the date diplomatic ties were established between the two countries.

The theme of this year's symposium is The Future and Prospects of Japan and Singapore Relations.

It is co-chaired by Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh and Japan's Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami, who heads the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

The host country of the biennial symposium, which was launched in 1994 by then-Prime Ministers Goh Chok Tong and Tomiichi Murayama, is rotated between Singapore and Japan.

The event, which will be attended by civil servants, academics and businessmen from both countries, is held to strengthen bilateral ties and discuss security and economic issues in the Asia Pacific region.

This visit is part of a "slate of high- level exchange of visits" which Dr Balakrishnan had said, during the debate on his ministry's budget earlier this month, has been arranged between the two countries this year.

On this visit, Dr Balakrishnan, who was previously Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, will meet his former Japanese counterpart Minister of the Environment Tamayo Marukawa.

He will also meet members of the Japan-Singapore Parliamentary Friendship League, including Chairman Kenji Kosaka, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Yasuhisa Shiozaki and Minister-in-charge of Economic Revitalisation Nobuteru Ishihara.

He is also scheduled to meet political party chiefs as well as business leaders from Japan's biggest business lobby Keidanren.

Dr Balakrishnan is accompanied by Mrs Joy Balakrishnan and senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

waltsim@sph.com.sg

Correction note: The original version of the story said that the foreign ministers will each deliver a keynote address at the 11th Japan-Singapore Symposium. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has clarified that it should be Dr Balakrishnan.