Packed itinerary in Japan for PM

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic BERNAMA

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s three-day working trip to Japan is the first foreign trip since taking office as Malaysia’s seventh prime minister (PM).

He will attend and deliver a keynote at the 24th International Conference on the Future of Asia, or Nikkei Conference, at the invitation of Nikkei Inc.

He was a regular attendee at the prestigious event, skipping it only four times — the last one in 2014.

Dr Mahathir is well regarded by the Japanese government partly due to his Look East Policy introduced in the 1980s during his previous stint as PM and at a time when most emerging economies were scrambling to rub shoulders with developed Western countries for economic assistance.

Accompanied by his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, and Foreign Ministry officials, Dr Mahathir will hold back-to-back meetings with the Japanese business community, political leaders and foreign dignitaries attending the conference.

According to a programme released by the PM’s office, he will meet counterpart Shinzo Abe tomorrow in the latter’s office.

Dr Mahathir is expected to be accorded a guard of honour followed by a bilateral meeting and a joint press conference, where anticipations are high he would renew Malaysia’s Look East Policy and reaffirm its commitment for closer ties with Japan.

Upon arrival yesterday (Sunday), Dr Mahathir received courtesy calls from Toyo University chairman Shinji Fukukawa and Nomura Holdings Inc president and group CEO Koji Nagai.

Both meetings were followed by a breaking fast event with the Malaysian community living in Tokyo. All the events on the first day were held at Dr Mahathir’s base in Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The PM is expected to deliver the keynote at the Nikkei Conference today, after a morning meeting with key leaders from Nikkei.

The keynote address entitled “Keeping Asia Open — How to Achieve Prosperity and Stability” will be followed by a dialogue session with the audience.

The PM will also be engaging with local Japanese media on the first day, with interview slots alloted to selected media organisations, as well as a dialogue with the Japan National Press Club.

After lunch time today, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to meet Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp president and group CEO Takeshi Kunibe and then hold bilateral meetings with the deputy PMs of Vietnam and Singapore.

Tomorrow, he is expected to attend a dialogue session with the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, together with the Japan External Trade Organisation.

He will also chair a short dialogue with the Japan-Malaysia Parliamentary Friendship Association.

Besides expecting a courtesy call from Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to address local media accompanying on his maiden trip, before leaving to Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Mahathir and his entourage are expected to land at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang at 9.40pm tomorrow.