Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started his trip to Cuba. He became the first Japanese leader to visit the socialist country since the Cuban revolution of the 1950s.
The PM arrived in Cuba on Thursday from New York, where he attended the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN).“It is my intention to express to President Raul Castro that Japan will continue to make efforts for the economic and social development of Cuba,”
Abe indicated ahead of the visit.
Abe, who on Thursday met with President Raul Castro to discuss deepening ties, told a news conference that he wanted to use his visit to turn a new page in bilateral relations. He said Japan would contribute to Cuba's development both from the public and private sectors.
Abe has already pledged ¥1.2 billion in grant aid to help Cuba buy equipment needed to improve cancer treatment, at a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana Thursday.
Abe and Castro agreed to begin a study on an envisioned Cuba-Japan medical center that Tokyo hopes will be a pillar of the two countries’ economic cooperation, according to Japanese officials.
Following the meeting, Japanese Ambassador to Cuba Masaru Watanabe and Cuban trade and investment minister Rodrigo Malmierca signed a document on the grant aid in the presence of Abe and Castro.
On the political front, the Japanese leader said North Korea’s repeated missile launches and nuclear tests represent a threat that has reached a level totally different from the past one, calling for cooperation in efforts to strengthen sanctions on Pyongyang.