Japan is to launch an investment offensive in Iraq, starting with the southern city of Basra, the Japanese ambassador to Iraq said on Tuesday, according to a report from AKnews.
Speaking at the conclusion of the Japanese investment conference at the Basra International Hotel ("Sheraton"), Mitsuo Sakaba said numerous Japanese companies are looking to get a share of the massive profits that it is possible to make from Iraqi investments, with a particular focus on energy.
“Japan is aware of Basra's economic and regional status and this makes us determined to make it the center to begin our investments in Iraq," he said.
Twenty-seven Japanese companies, mostly from the energy and industrial sectors, took part in the conference.
"The conference is the first serious step to return the economic relations between Iraq and Japan after being frozen for many years,” he said.
The chairman of Basra Investment Commission, Haider Ali Fadel said: “We have presented the Japanese delegation with everything they need to start investing in the region. We have also provided detailed explanations for the Iraqi investment law and instructions."
Before the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Japan was one of the biggest investors in the country, but supported the resulting UN sanctions that banned any trade with Iraq.
In 2003 Japan loaned $3.5 billion to develop oil and gas sector and another in 2007 worth $860 million, which opened up channels to allow Japanese companies to invest.
Sabaka said many of his compatriots have failed to take advantage of the opportunities Iraq offers for investment due to fears about the security situation.
(Sources: AKnews, Basra Investment Commission)