Swiss president forced to miss meeting with Japanese emperor

Switzerland's flag-bearers, sprinter Mujinga Kambundji (left) and fencer Max Heinzer, during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Friday. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

Technical issues with his plane meant Guy Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, was unable to meet Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Friday.

This content was published on July 23, 2021 - 16:14

Despite having to wait for his aircraft to be fixed, Parmelin still got to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo on time.

He tweeted he was in the stadium next to other heads of state such as French President Emmanuel Macron and was now looking forward “all the more” to meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

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Around 110 athletes from Switzerland are taking part in the Summer Olympics. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic the public is admitted to the opening ceremony only on a very limited basis. However, heads of state and government as well as sports ministers are among those present.

Bilateral relations

On Saturday Parmelin will also meet Thomas Bach, president of the Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee. The talks with Japan’s prime minister are set to focus on the close relations between Switzerland and Japan in the areas of trade and research, as well as global issues such as the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Despite the geographical distance, the Swiss and Japanese economies have long enjoyed close links. Mutual investment is considerable, and some Swiss companies have been present in Japan for over 100 years,” the economics ministry said in a statementExternal link.

“The two countries have had a free-trade agreement since 2009, and Japan is Switzerland’s second-largest trading partner in Asia. It is also a priority country in Switzerland’s bilateral research cooperation.”

The ministry added that the opening of a new consulate in Osaka marked a further expansion of swissnex, the Swiss network for education, research and innovation.

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