Saudi youth's growing 'fascination' for Japanese language, anime and arts

Consul General in Jeddah impressed by young citizens' interest in learning about his country

Izuru Shimmura, Consul General of Japan, is visiting Jeddah promoting the 'historical friendship' shared by his country and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Consul General of Japan in Jeddah
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It is a role that Izuru Shimmura says makes him feel "lucky".

The Consul General of Japan in Jeddah described the city as being “at the heart of the Islamic world and the dynamic economic centre of the kingdom”.

Izuru Shimmura, who is well-versed in Arabic and Arab culture, told The National that Japan and Saudi Arabia share a “historical friendship” dating back 65 years.

Japan is one of its main partners in trade and investment. The kingdom is the most important supplier of crude oil to Japan and the countries recently stepped up efforts in the renewable energy sector.

Japanese companies are participating in “iconic projects” in the kingdom, including Petro Rabigh in the western region, said Mr Shimmura.

Last year, blue ammonia was produced and shipped from Saudi Arabia to Japan for use in zero-carbon power generation by Saudi Aramco and the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, in partnership with Sabic and with support from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

As the kingdom undergoes a transformation set out by Vision 2030, Mr Shimmura said the changes represent “a new compass” for a long-standing strategic partnership between the countries.

He said Vision 2030 has already helped open doors to more areas of co-operation between the countries, including in culture, entertainment and sports.

“Saudi Arabia is now focusing on actively developing its culture, entertainment and sports industries to reform the current oil-based economy," Mr Shimmura told The National.

Both the G20 member countries have recently hosted major world events – for Saudi Arabia, the G20 summit and the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I congratulate Saudi Arabia on hosting a successful G20 summit last year as the first Arab country, despite the tumultuous time of the pandemic,” Mr Shimmura said.

“As Japan has also successfully hosted Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Summer Games amid this pandemic, I think both our countries have precious assets and experiences to share with the global community in combatting this unprecedented challenge in our world.”

He said he was honoured to be a part of the Tokyo Olympics celebrations and congratulated Saudi athletes, singling out karate star Tareq Ali Hamedi, a silver medallist, for praise.

Mr Shimmura said he was hugely impressed by young Saudi citizens' growing interest in learning the Japanese language as well as studying anime and Japanese arts.

”I have been very excited and honoured to meet so many Saudi citizens, especially those from the younger generation, who are strongly fascinated with the Japanese pop-culture, such as anime and manga, as well as Japanese traditional arts such as Shodo, which drove so many people to learn the Japanese language,” he said.

The first Saudi-Japan e-sports match will be held on October 2 and 3.

This year, Saudi Arabia’s Manga Productions, a digital animation studio, produced The Journey, the first feature film with Japanese studio Toei Animation.

“I had a chance to watch the movie, which is a Saudi-Japanese joint production, and was so impressed by the quality of the animation that uses Japanese anime method and its unique storytelling based on the themes of the Quran," Mr Shimmura said. "It is an excellent embodiment of the Japanese-Saudi flourishing cultural ties.”

Updated: October 05, 2021, 11:07 AM