The Catalan government is making a fresh attempt to establish a direct air connection between Barcelona and Tokyo, according to the Japan 2020-2023 Plan [in Catalan], approved on Tuesday. The Plan also aims to encourage Japanese investment in Catalonia, promote scientific and innovation relations, and increase connections between Catalan and Japanese research centers.

The option of launching direct flights between the Japanese and Catalan capitals was to be looked during 2020, but the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic put any such plans on ice. Japan is the world’s third largest economy, and the Catalan government considers that establishing further economic ties with the Asian country is a “priority”, with plans to open a government delegation in Tokyo.

The Japanese market is also a priority for the Catalan tourism sector: in 2019, nearly 372,000 Japanese tourists arrived in Catalonia, making Japan the 8th largest market at present. With over half of Japanese companies in Spain located in Catalonia, Catalonia is already the Spanish region that receives the largest amount of Japanese investment.

The latest plan in the fourth of its kind since the first Japan Plan in 2009, and includes over 50 actions, several of which look to improve cooperation in health and emergencies, given the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

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