From left: Hiromasa Takahashi, Mohammad Ahmad Al Bawardi, Kanji Fujiki, Maj Gen Ishaq Saleh Al Beloushi, UAE Defence Ministry, and Abdullah Al Masaood, Speaker of the National Consultative Council at the event. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Japan has appointed a defence attache at its embassy in Abu Dhabi for the first time, reflecting growing defence ties with the UAE, a top Japanese diplomat said on Monday.

Kanji Fujiki, Japanese Ambassador to the UAE, formally announced the appointment at an event to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the Japan Self-Defence Forces Day.

The annual reception commemorates the formation of the Japan Self-Defence Forces established on July 1, 1954. Fujiki added that the embassy was celebrating this occasion for the first time in the UAE after the appointment of the defence attache.

“With Commander Hiromasa Takahashi being appointed as defence attache in March this year, I expect defence exchanges to be further deepened,” Fujiki said.

Mohammad Bin Ahmad Al Bowardi, UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs, was the guest of honour at the event attended by representatives of the armed forces, diplomatic community and civil society.

The defence attache said peace and stability in this region has a huge impact on Japan’s security as Japan has strong ties with Gulf countries, especially the UAE. “It is my great honour to work as the first defence attache in such a significant region and to carry out the mission to deepen security cooperation and cooperation with the UAE Armed Forces,” Takahashi said.

Two swordsmen performed Kendo, a Japanese martial art based on traditional sword techniques, at the event.

Fujiki said the appointment of the defence attache was part of the efforts to advance security cooperation agreed to during talks between His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Abu Dhabi in 2014.

He said security dialogue between both sides and cooperation between defence authorities, including the transfer of defence equipment are also progressing.

“The first bilateral security dialogue was held in 2015 and the result was greatly accomplished. We are working diligently at this moment to hold the second meeting,” the ambassador said.

Fujiki said the bilateral partnership has been shifted from the conventional energy-centred relationship to the comprehensive strategic partnership in broader areas such as politics, security, economics, education and culture.

Fujiki pointed out that the UAE is involved in international missions such as eradication of terrorism and prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to maintain peace and stability in the region. ”Therefore, the UAE is our important partner in the Middle East, which shares common values with us,” he said.