Saudi Crown Prince to meet Japanese emperor and PM, Tokyo announces

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Japan from May 20 to 23 when he will meet the emperor and the prime minister, Tokyo said Friday.

Saudi Arabia is a major oil supplier to Japan and its sovereign wealth fund owns a stake in gaming giant Nintendo as part of a major push into the sector.

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The visit to Japan by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, also called MBS, will be his first since 2019.

He will have an audience and “court luncheon” with Emperor Naruhito and will hold talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the government said.

Kishida plans to discuss bilateral cooperation and a “broad range” of areas affecting the Middle East and the international community, government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters, without giving further details.

MBS is said to be an avid gamer partial to “Call of Duty,” and Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in the sector since the 38-year-old became first in line to the throne in 2017.

In 2022, the Crown Prince announced a $38-billion investment strategy for the Kingdom’s Savvy Games Group, owned by the sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

PIF in 2023 became the largest outside shareholder of Nintendo with a stake of 8.6 percent, according to a filing last June.

It has reportedly also bought stakes in “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and “Street Fighter” maker Capcom.

Saudi Arabia aims to organize an eSports World Cup starting this year as part of a push to become the “premier global hub” for the industry that includes homegrown studios making games.

The Kingdom is also planning a theme park based on Japan’s “Dragon Ball” manga franchise with at least 30 rides and a 70-metre (230-foot) model dragon.

The plans form part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program to diversify economically away from oil.

More than 90 percent of Japan’s oil imports come from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

Japanese energy firms are also keen to invest in hydrogen and ammonia production projects in the Gulf, with a view to using these gases as fuel to reduce Japan’s carbon emissions.

With AFP

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