Saudi Crown Prince postpones visit to Japan over King’s health

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman postponed a planned four-day trip to Japan due to concerns over the king’s health, Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

The trip was set to start Monday.

The kingdom’s de facto ruler was due to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the trip, according to Japan’s government. MBS, as the Saudi crown prince is known, was also expected to meet with Japanese companies and sign an agreement to strengthen supply chains for liquid hydrogen, Japanese media reported. It was to have been his first visit to Japan since 2019.

News of the cancellation came after the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported that Prince Mohammed’s father, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, is suffering from inflammation of the lung and will be receiving antibiotics at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah.

READ MORE: Saudi King to receive treatment at Palace for lung inflammation

The crown prince had also planned to visit Japan in late 2022, but the trip was canceled shortly before he was scheduled to arrive.

Japan and Saudi Arabia have been forging deeper ties in recent years. Kishida traveled to the kingdom in July and announced the launch of an initiative on green energy projects, including hydrogen and ammonia. He also urged the crown prince to increase investment in semiconductors and batteries. 

Technology has recently been an emerging area of cooperation, with Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund among the largest shareholders in gaming giant Nintendo Co. The kingdom’s new investment firm, Alat, is partnering with SoftBank Group Corp. to build a fully automated manufacturing and engineering hub to build industrial robots in Riyadh.

The countries in December held high-level official meetings, including one between Japan’s trade minister Ken Saito and his counterparts, to make progress on a “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030” agreement that’s meant to boost investment between the nations. 

The cooperation is part of the wider Vision 2030 agenda, Prince Mohammed’s plan to transform the Saudi economy by investing trillions of dollars in everything from tourism to electric vehicles and semiconductors. –BLOOMBERG