Jordan's King Abdullah discusses economic support during Japan visit

Japan grants Jordan $5.3 million for water desalination project

King Abdullah and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida following their meeting in Tokyo, on 11 April 2023.  EPA
Powered by automated translation

Jordan's King Abdullah II discussed development with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a visit to Japan, as the kingdom feels growing economic pressure.

An official Japanese statement on Wednesday said Mr Kishida expressed “Japan’s desire to contribute to the urgent challenges facing Jordan, such as increasing investment from abroad and reducing unemployment”.

Unemployment in aid-dependent Jordan is officially about 23 per cent. The economy has been stagnant for the past dozen years, in part because of declines in foreign investment.

Japan is among international powers allied with Washington that provide direct budgetary support to Jordan, as well as grants and loans for infrastructure and other projects.

“Japan appreciates Jordan’s efforts to modernise its economy and finances, and will continue to support Jordan through measures including development policy loans and grant aid,” the statement said.

The king and Mr Kishida met on Tuesday over a 65-minute working dinner. They agreed to co-operate in the technology field, the statement said.

King Abdullah “expressed deep appreciation for Japan’s consistent support for Jordan,” the Royal Court said.

They witnessed a signing ceremony of a 713 million yen ($5.3 million) Japanese grant for Jordan to buy equipment for a water desalination project.

If completed, the multibillion dollar project would be Jordan's most expensive piece of infrastructure yet. It would consist of a desalination plant on the Red Sea, near the port city of Aqaba, and a pipeline to carry the water to Amman, with solar or wind to power the project.

Until recently, many seawater desalination plants relied on thermal energy, such as burning oil and gas to evaporate water, leaving salty brine, or used electricity provided by thermal sources to push seawater through membranes.

The visit is the 12th by King Abdullah to Japan since he became monarch in 1999, indicating the importance of Japan in supporting the kingdom, which has a defence pact with the United States and is a main recipient of US financial aid.

The king appreciated “the warm reception extended by the Japanese side, as well as his desire to further strengthen strategic relations,” the statement said.

King Abdullah has been accompanied on the visit by his wife, Queen Rania, and his son, Crown Prince Hussein. On Tuesday, they met Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

The king “lauded the deep-rooted friendship between Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Family and Japan’s Imperial Family,” the Royal Palace said.

It said the king left for Japan on April 6 and he will be returning to Jordan on Wednesday.

Updated: April 12, 2023, 9:57 AM