On an official visit from 29-30 July 2023, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hayashi Yoshimasa, was warmly received in the Maldives, following an invitation extended by his Maldivian counterpart, Abdulla Shahid. Hayashi’s visit was marked by the presence of a high-level delegation from Japan, signalling the significance of the bilateral relationship.
On the itinerary was an extensive bilateral discussion between Foreign Ministers Hayashi and Shahid, exploring various themes across the bilateral and multilateral spheres, encompassing issues related to Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific region, and the further deepening of the bilateral ties between the two nations.
Shahid warmly welcomed Hayashi and his delegation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, underscoring the enduring strength of the Maldives-Japan partnership, a relationship based on mutual respect and close people-to-people engagement.
Both foreign ministers agreed to continue working closely to uphold and strengthen the free and open international order grounded in the rule of law, addressing shared interests and challenges along the way. They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen people-to-people exchanges, easing travel between their countries, and bolstering cultural cooperation.
Minister Shahid expressed gratitude to Hayashi and the Japanese Government for their generous assistance to the Maldives over the years, which includes significant projects such as the seawall’s construction around the Capital City Male’ – a symbol of Japanese assistance.
Shahid also acknowledged Japan’s instrumental role in developing the Maldives’ telecommunications infrastructure, a key factor in the success of the country’s world-renowned tourism industry. Further, he appreciated Japan’s technical support for mechanising fishing vessels, a critical contribution to the Maldivian fisheries industry.
Minister Shahid lauded the resumption of the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) programme, suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic, and acknowledged the ongoing Grassroots Human Security Grant Aid in the Maldives.
Hayashi expressed Japan’s interest in exploring potential projects to symbolize the bilateral friendship, a legacy traced back to the Sea Wall project of the 1990s.
Reflecting on the interconnected stability of the Maldives and the Indian Ocean region, both ministers concurred on working together to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and strengthening diplomatic and security cooperation in this context.
Shahid also thanked Japan for its ongoing support through the Human Resource Development Scholarship Programme (JDS), acknowledging Japan’s significant contributions to the well-being and development of the Maldives.
Further, Shahid expressed his appreciation for the support rendered by the Government of Japan during his presidency at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Hayashi, in turn, congratulated the Maldives on being elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2023-2025 term.
Both ministers committed to working together at the United Nations and other international fora on mutual interests, with a particular emphasis on addressing global challenges such as climate change.
The visit concluded with the exchange of Note Verbales for the exemption of visa for Diplomatic and Official passports and a grant aid of One Hundred and Twenty-Two Million Japanese Yen (approximately USD 1.1 million) to the Maldives for 2023 scholarships under the Japanese Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS).
Reaffirming their commitment to further strengthen the bilateral ties, both Ministers looked forward to enhanced cooperation in economic, development, and multilateral arenas between Japan and the Maldives.