STA, 7 February - The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that there are six Slovenians aboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan because of the new coronavirus. They all feel well.
Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry's consular service, said the Slovenians aboard the Diamond Princess, which is quarantined in Yokohama for two weeks, were three couples.
They have been in contact with the Slovenian Embassy in Tokyo since the day the quarantine was declared after a passenger who had been on the ship last month fell ill with the virus.
"They are fine and are not among those who tested positive. They are being looked after by Japanese health authorities, while our ministry, in particular colleagues at the Tokyo embassy, are keeping in touch with them," Šter told reporters in Ljubljana on Friday.
At least 61 of some 3,700 people on board have tested positive for the new coronavirus, including citizens of Japan, US, Canada, Australia, Argentina and the UK. So far 273 of the people on board have been tested.
Šter said that having been on the ship where the virus was detected the Slovenian passengers would have been quarantined for two weeks in any case even on land.
He could not say whether they might be subject to further restrictive measures or difficulties heading home once the quarantine was over end.
However, he promised for the ministry to try to organise their return home in a way so as to not expose them to any further danger or threaten their health in any way.
Šter also called for responsible reporting on the spread of coronavirus, saying that any exaggeration, either "embellishing the situation and covering the facts" or "creating a problem where there is none", was causing further problems.
All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 4 February 2020 - A business delegation led by state secretary at the Economic Development and Technology Ministry Aleš Cantarutti is visiting Japan this week. They kicked off their trip with visits to Yaskawa Electric, Kansai Paint and Daihen on Monday.
All three companies have already invested in Slovenia. Japanese investments have grown more than tenfold since 2013, reaching EUR 339.5 million in 2018, central bank data shows.
Slovenia classified Japan as a strategic priority market in its business internationalisation action plan in 2015, the Economy Ministry noted in a press release on Tuesday.
At Yaskawa Electric, which has a robotics plant in Kočevje, Cantarutti talked about business sentiment in Slovenia, adding that the country wished Yaskawa would continue investing in Kočevje.
Cantarutti also met Kunishi Mori, president of Kansai Paint, the owner of coatings maker Helios Domžale, the press release said. Cantarutti and Mori shared the view that Helios was an example of best practices in terms of launching new centres focusing on innovation and R&D.
The state secretary also invited Mori to the Bled Strategic Forum, the key foreign policy event in Slovenia, taking place in Bled every September.
At Daihen, the investor in the Lendava-based Varstroj Daihen, the company presented their beginnings to the delegation and showed it around the floor shop.
Cantarutti invited representatives of Yaskawa Electric, Kansai Paint and Daihen to visit the Slovenian House during the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
The newspaper Delo said today that Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek had planned to lead the delegation. The head of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) changed his plans after Prime Minister Marjan Šarec resigned last week.
All our stories on Japan and Slovenia are here
Tokyo is not a place where one would expect to find a professional oom-pah band, and even less so one which would sing in Slovenian. The East Asian love for themed events and cultural learning, however, has ensured that this aspect of cultural heritage is also represented in Japan.
Among a variety of interesting things one can experience in Japan there is the Oktoberfest in Fukuoka and other places, with German beer, dirndl dresses and lederhosen (SLO: irharce) and of course with Edelweisskapelle and their impeccable interpretations of German, Austrian and Slovenian oom-pah and oom-pah-pah.
Edelweisskapelle, which consists of professional musicians, also performs in Europe. Their last tour on this side of the world was in 2017, which unfortunately didn’t include Slovenia.
In 2015 Fukuoka and Edelweisskapelle also hosted a German accordionist Alexander Koll and Slovenian diatonic accordion manufacturer Jernej Brilej. This is what they played together:
We certainly hope to see Edelweisskapelle in Slovenia someday. Planica would be nice, or perhaps the New Year celebrations in Ljubljana?
STA, 23 October 2019 - Slovenian President Borut Pahor met Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Wednesday, with Pahor thanking the Japanese prime minister for the opportunity to hold a bilateral meeting in the days when the Japanese capital is hosting numerous world leaders who attended Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony yesterday.
"Slovenia understands this as a recognition and gesture of special attention from Japan," the president's office quoted Pahor, adding that the meeting with Abe had been held in the spirit of excellent bilateral relations.
Abe meanwhile thanked Pahor on his attendance of the enthronement ceremony in Tokyo, with Pahor noting that he attended such events only exceptionally, according to his office.
It noted that bilateral economic cooperation had been boosted following the Slovenian president's visit to Japan in 2013 and the visit by Miro Cerar in 2016 in the capacity of prime minister in 2016.
Pahor stressed on the occasion that "what is more important than merely capital is business culture, and the Japanese business culture is close to Slovenians."
Abe meanwhile assessed that Slovenia was interesting to Japan, being a member of the EU and NATO and having excellent relations with all countries of the Western Balkans.
Pahor and Abe also talked about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, agreeing that effort should be invested to find a peaceful solution and achieve reconciliation.
The Slovenian president showed understanding for Japan's concern about the unpredictability of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the office added.
The Japanese prime minister said he would like to visit Slovenia, with Pahor saying he would gladly welcome him in his country.
On the last day of this two-day visit to Japan, Pahor also visited the High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation (KEK) in Tsukuba near Tokyo, where Slovenian scientists have been involved in an antimatter project.
Pahor met KEK director-general Masanori Yamauchi and Slovenian scientists and viewed the electron-positron supercollider. On the occasion, Pahor decorated professor Yamauchi with the Order of Merit for his contribution in promotion of Slovenian science in the world.
All our stories about Japan are here
STA, 15 October - Yusen Logistics, a Japanese supply chain logistics company, opened on Friday its subsidiary in the coastal town of Koper, thus becoming the first Japanese freight forwarder in Slovenia. The launch is an important step for the port operator Luka Koper as well since it promotes the transport route via Koper.
The first Japanese logistics subsidiary in Slovenia will also help popularise Slovenia's sole maritime port among Japanese logistics providers, who still prefer the ports in northern Europe.
Yusen Logistics, employing more than 24,000 workers and managing a global network of subsidiaries, has been so far providing services for Slovenia from their Budapest division, said Luka Koper.
The opening was attended by Luka Koper CEO Dimitrij Zadel as well as Takeshi Kondo, chief regional officer of Europe region at Yusen Logistics, and Japanese Ambassador to Slovenia Masaharu Yoshida.
Japan is one of Luka Koper's priority target markets overseas, particularly in terms of containers and vehicles, said the operator.
Last year, Luka Koper transshipped from or to Japan almost half a million tonnes of goods, including about 40,000 vehicles and 27,000 container units.
The operator pointed out that Japanese companies also owned industrial plants in other Asian countries, which transshipped even larger amounts of goods through the Slovenian port, highlighting that the move would help further tap into the potential of the Japanese market.
Luka Koper also drew attention to last year's merger of three Japanese container shipping lines into a single business - the Ocean Network Express (ONE), which ranks sixth in terms of global ranking by vessel capacity.
ONE is not coming to Koper with its own direct shipping line, but it will operate as part of the Intra Mediterranean service, said Luka Koper, adding that setting up a direct commercial maritime link with Japan would definitely vastly increase transshipment business.
Referring to a milestone trade agreement between the EU and Japan which entered into force in February, Luka Koper said that the deal had opened up new possibilities in trade and service exchanges.
Moreover, in the wake of Brexit, Japan, coming up with an alternative to its plants in the UK, could opt for exporting goods, which would enable Luka Koper to capitalise on its own geo-strategic advantage.
Today's opening is another sign that Japanese companies are increasingly interested in the port of Koper. At the start of August, a delegation from Nagoya, the largest Japanese port in terms of transshipment, visited the port, expressing interest in strengthening the economic cooperation.
All our stories on Japan and Slovenia are here
STA, 15 August 2019 - A 69-year-old Japanese paraglider was killed after falling from a great height onto the slopes of a 1,673 metre-high mountain above the village of Breginj in the Kobarid area in western Slovenia on Thursday.
The Nova Gorica Police Department said they had been notified of the accident on the slopes of Mount Kobariški Stol just before 1am.
A helicopter rescue team was deployed, but on arriving at the scene established that the man had been dead on the spot.
The police ruled out any foul play, but will file a report on the accident with the Nova Gorica District Prosecutor's Office.
STA, 14 August 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and his visiting Japanese counterpart Taro Kono called for a further deepening of economic cooperation between the two countries in Ljubljana on Wednesday. They also urged respect for the rule of law and for arbitration decisions, including with regard to the Adriatic and the South China Sea.
During what is the first visit by a Japanese foreign minister to Ljubljana, the pair also exchanged views on developments in Asia, in particular the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the trade dispute between the US and China, while they also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans.
Cerar and Kono, who first met on the sidelines of this year's Munich Security Conference, agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and economic ties.
"Minister Kono and I agreed that possibilities to increase trade in goods expanded vastly with the entry into force of the economic partnership agreement between the EU and Japan, but also that all the opportunities for cooperation have not been used sufficiently yet," Cerar said today.
The ministers identified the Koper port as one of the opportunities for closer cooperation with Kono telling reporters that the Slovenian port was among the first after the Suez Canal with good access to Central Europe, which made it interesting for Japanese companies.
While no concrete projects were discussed, Kono suggested Slovenia enhanced promotion of its business environment in Japan. His press officer Jun Saito said they welcomed seminars planned for September to inform Japanese businesses about Slovenia.
He said that it took time for Japanese companies to take a decision on cooperation, but once they did they were very loyal and were looking for long-term cooperation.
Trade between the two countries has been fairly modest, with Slovenian exports amounting to EUR 119 million in 2018 and imports to EUR 86 million, which made Japan Slovenia's 32nd largest trade partner. Still, cooperation has intensified in recent years, which is also reflected in increasing Japanese investment in Slovenia.
Economic cooperation was also in focus of a working lunch at which the two foreign ministers were joined by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti.
New opportunities for cooperation are emerging in the field of smart networks, proton cancer therapy and electro mobility. Successful cooperation has moreover been established in the field of new physics between Slovenia's Jožef Stefan Institute and Japan's KEK.
On Tuesday, representatives of the Slovenian rehabilitation hospital URI - Soča and of Japan's Toyota Motor Corporation and Fujita Health University signed an agreement on cooperation in the development of medical therapy robots.
Vesel sem, da smo v letih, ko sem vodil @vladaRS, našli pot za investicijo #Yaskawa?? v ??. Danes sva si z @konotaromp skupaj ogledala njihovo tovarno v #Kočevje. Gre za napredno tehnologijo 21. stoletja, do leta 2023 bo zaposlenih 200 ljudi, investicija je znašala 25mio €. pic.twitter.com/c24dSCWakM— dr. Miro Cerar (@MiroCerar) August 14, 2019
Cerar noted that Japan, with its economic and technological development, can serve as model to many countries. He is happy that the Japanese Yaskawa robotics company and Japanese multinational Sumitomo Rubber Industries launched investments in Slovenia when he served as prime minister between 2014 and 2018.
According to Kono, the Japanese companies doing business in Slovenia valued in particular its highly skilled workforce. "Many Japanese companies notice Slovenia because of its qualified labour force in information technology and high technologies."
Yaskawa opened its first European robot factory in the south-eastern town of Kočevje in April, and Cerar and Kono are scheduled to visit it today. Kono has also been received by President Pahor.
Meanwhile, the pair also discussed initiatives for deeper cooperation in the Western Balkans and Cerar thanked his counterpart for Japan's long-standing support for the Slovenian-run ITF demining fund.
Also discussed were the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the ambassador of the House of Slovenia will be Miro Cerar senior, the winner of a golden medal in gymnastics at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the Foreign Ministry announced.
The athlete's son, Foreign Minister Cerar, also highlighted today the alley of 300 cherry trees outside the Ljubljana Biology Centre that were given to Slovenia as a present in 1999, which he said was a special symbol of friendship between the two countries.
Pahor's office reported that the Japanese foreign minister thanked the Slovenian president for his decision to attend the enthronement ceremony for Japanese Emperor Naruhito in the autumn.
The office also noted Pahor's working visit to Tokyo in 2013 in what was the first visit by a Slovenian head of state in Japan. On the occasion, he was received by the then Emperor Akihito.
According to the president's office, Pahor and Kono hailed the friendship between the two countries and good political, cultural, economic and scientific links between them. Pahor also welcomed Japanese investment in Slovenia, a country that he said made a suitable gateway to Europe for Japanese businesses.
The Japanese foreign minister is due in Croatia later today for talks on Croatia's stint at the presidency of the EU, and bilateral relations, including economic cooperation, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said, but could not say whether opportunities afforded by Croatian ports would be discussed as well.
STA, 13 August 2019 - Japanese and Slovenian partners signed two agreements in Ljubljana on Tuesday that pave the way for cooperation in development and research of robotised rehabilitation devices.
Fujita Health University signed one of the accords with the University of Ljubljana and the other with the Ljubljana-based URI Soča Rehabilitation Institute, and Toyota Motor Corporation.
The signing was attended by Economy Ministry State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti, who praised it as a major paving stone for further cooperation between Slovenia and Japan in the field.
"Cooperation between Slovenia and Japan has seen tremendous progress in recent years," said Cantarutti, praising the agreements as an "excellent example of cooperation between science and research and business", and a new opportunity to upgrade medical rehabilitation robotics.
Bilateral cooperation was also praised by Japanese Ambassador to Slovenia Masaharu Yoshida, who noted that Fujita Health University was a leading institution in the field in Japan. The university operates Japan's largest university hospital, treating 1.83 million patients a year.
"The agreement signed today will allow us to find a common path in development of rehabilitation robots and, above all, to put them on the market," said Robert Cugelj, director general of URI Soča.
The institute's main goal is to get its expertise and technology into the real world, and sell it. "In this way we generate value added mainly for patients, both those from Slovenia and elsewhere," said Cugelj.
The head of the institute's research and development department, Zlatko Matjačić, presented two projects that formed the basis for cooperation.
One is a rehab robot to train patients how to maintain balance and movement coordination during walking, which is being developed by the Slovenian institute, and the other is a robot developed by Fujita Health University and Toyota.
These are two exoskeletal devices focusing on two different areas. "The Japanese have focused on the leg's function and support during walk, while we're focusing on the integrated function of balance and coordination," Matjačić said.
They would now like to combine their expertise, technology and experience into a now concept to help in the rehabilitation of patients after stroke.
Fujita Health University professor and president Eiichi Saitoh was happy that the university was linking with the world's leading rehabilitation institutions, expressing belief that expertise is expanded and enriched through such cooperation.
Keisuke Suga of Toyota's BR-Medicare hailed the new partnership, which said would help implement Toyota's vision of mobility for all. The department headed by Suga specializes in development and production of devices used in patient rehabilitation.
The Japanese delegation already met Health Ministry State Secretary Simona Repar Bornšek on Monday and will be received along with URI Soča officials by President Borut Pahor on Wednesday.
The best website for regional aviation news, Ex-Yu Aviation, reports that All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest carrier, will be returning to Ljubljana later this month, with two direct flights being operated for Japan’s largest tour operator.
Flight NH1951 will fly from Osaka Kansai International to Ljubljana on August 31, departing at 13:05 and landing in Slovenia at 18:5 the same day. The second flight, NH1955, will go from Tokyo to Ljubljana and leave Narita Airport at 09:00 on September 14, arriving at Ljubljana Airport at 14:00. The service will be operated using a wide-body Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
In June of this year the Slovenian State Secretary at the Ministry for Economy and Technological Development, Aleš Cantarutti, received a visit from Yoshihiro Seki, Japan's Minister for Economy, Commerce and Industry, in which they discussed the plans for more regular nonstop flights between the two countries. More on this story, including ANA’s new flights to Croatia, can be found at Ex-Yu Aviation.
STA, 2 August 2019 - The operator of Slovenia's sole maritime port of Koper is hosting on Friday a delegation from Nagoya, the largest Japanese port in terms of transshipment, for talks on how to expand cooperation. Koper has no direct commercial maritime link with Japan, while it does cooperate with the Japanese Ocean Network Express (ONE).
The delegation featuring more than 30 representatives of the public and private sectors, the port of Nagoya and the chamber of commerce and industry from the city is in Slovenia before making stops in Italy and Croatia.
Representatives of Luka Koper presented the Japanese with the advantages of the port of Koper and the Adriatic Sea in general.
Japan is a major trade partner to Luka Koper, with last year's transshipment reaching almost half a million tonnes. The bulk of the transshipment are containers and cars, with Japan being one of the largest car producers in the world.
The port of Nagoya is the largest and busiest trading port in Japan, with an annual transshipment of 197 million tonnes, including 2.7 million container units and 1.4 million cars.
Luka Koper chairman Dimitrij Zadel told the press on the sidelines of the visit that efforts were being made to establish a direct link with Japan, noting that the port had been cooperating with ONE as of last year.
Today's presentation was also attended by representatives of Japanese companies which are already present in the region.
Tamas Tanarki of the Hungarian subsidiary of Yusen Logistics said that in the last decade, Japanese investors had started taking the Adriatic route into account and perceiving it as a good solution for their cargo transport.
He sees no much room for the Adriatic ports to compete with the North Sea ports in the near future, but he said it was realistic to expect that trade with these ports could increase by between 10% and 15%.
Tanarki thinks that what is important for the ports in north Adriatic is to agree on cooperation, as Trieste, Koper and Rijeka are only 70 kilometres apart, which is considered as one sole port on the global scale.