A helicopter flies over Mabi town which was flooded by the heavy rain in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 9, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via Reuters
CAIRO – 10 July 2018: In a telephone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi mourned Monday the death of dozens of people during one of the most disastrous floods that hit the country.
Unprecedented rains have reportedly killed 109 people and left about 2 million people subject to evacuation. It also stranded 1,850 in the western Japanese city of Kurashiki, including about 130 at a hospital, with rescuers using helicopters and boats after rivers surged over their banks according to media reports on Sunday.
Kurashiki, with a population of just under 500,000, has been hit by torrential rains that pounded some parts of western Japan, causing the highest death toll since 2014.
Scores of patients, some still in their pajamas, and nurses were rescued from the isolated Mabi Memorial Hospital in boats rowed by members of Japan's Self Defence Forces.
In 2011, two typhoons struck the country causing the death of about 100 people, while about 70 people were killed by landslides that occurred following rains in Hiroshima in 2014.
According to presidential spokesman Bassam Radi, Abe has expressed, during the phone call, his appreciation to the Egyptian-Japanese deep relations, affirming his country’s keenness to continue developing these ties and enhancing cooperation between the two states in various realms.
Radi also noted that the two leaders discussed a number of regional issues of mutual concern, and they agreed to intensify coordination and negotiation efforts in the next period.
Egyptian-Japanese special relations
The Egyptian-Japanese relations have been significantly strong for years, especially after President Sisi came in power in 2013. In January 2015, President Sisi received Shinzo Abe in Cairo where the latter offered around ¥43 billion ($388 million) in loans to Egypt for airport and power grid projects.
In another meeting in 2016 with Sisi in Tokyo, Abe said that Japanese companies will take part in Egyptian projects worth about ¥2 trillion ($17.7 billion), according to Reuters.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (R) attends with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) agreements signings at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan - Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency
Moreover, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, signed loan agreements with Japan International Company Agency (JICA) to fund energy and transport sectors. The loan agreements are worth $450 million, according to media reports.
Egypt and Japan signed Sunday a grant agreement to support the establishment of an electronic system for calculating value added tax (VAT) worth LE 15.480 million at the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation.
An official press release revealed that this agreement contributes to the effective implementation of the fiscal policy; it also promotes and supports Egypt's economic reform programs and development plans.
Nasr said that the joint committee held its first meeting Sunday at the ministry's headquarters where the committee will study the joint issues between the ministries of investment and international cooperation and finance, such as the rules of granting special and additional incentives to investors.
During the signing ceremony- Press photo
Japanese Ambassador to Cairo Takahiro Kagawa stressed the keenness of his country to support Egypt, pointing out that this grant is a symbol of cooperation between the two countries and will contribute to increasing Egypt’s budget revenues and will support the economic development in Egypt.
He further praised the results of Egypt's economic reform program and measures to improve the investment climate, noting that the climate has become suitable for Japanese companies to pump more investments in Egypt.
Easing travel warning on Egypt
Egyptian Ambassador in Tokyo Ayman Kamel welcomed Japan's decision to ease its travel warning on Egypt and allow its citizens to visit Egyptian touristic destinations.
Kamel said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan notified the Egyptian Embassy in Tokyo that it modified its "Travel Advice and Warning" terms related to Egypt, downgrading its warning from "Recommendation to consider whether or not to travel" category, to "Travel cautiously" category.
Kamel hailed the step as it reflects Japan's confidence in the security measures applied at the Egyptian touristic destinations, and the capability of the Egyptian security bodies to secure Japanese visitors.
Japan funds GEM
In a meeting with former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail in Cairo in February, President of JICA, Shinichi Kitaoka, praised the economic reform decisions recently made by the Egyptian government, saying that they will put Egypt on the right track of economic growth.
He also praised the work progress at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is partially funded by the Japanese government.
In an interview with ONLIVE in January 2018, Japan’s ambassador in Cairo said that the Japanese government supported the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is currently under construction, with $800 million.
Wire agencies contributed to this report