Japan and Colombia recently agreed to deepen economic relations, following a meeting between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Tokyo. In an email interview, Melba Falck Reyes, a professor in the Pacific studies department at the University of Guadalajara, discussed Japan-Latin America relations.
WPR: What is the recent history of Japan's trade and diplomatic relations with Latin America?
Melba Falck Reyes: In Latin America, Japan has a long history of diplomatic relations with Mexico, Peru and Brazil. It is no coincidence that these nations are presently Japan's main economic partners in the region. In the past decade, two factors have driven a deepening of these trans-Pacific relationships: First, at the turn of the century, Japan shifted its foreign policy from its traditional emphasis on multilateralism to one emphasizing regionalism in order to shore up its weakened competitiveness relative to other international actors. Second, Latin American countries, especially South American ones, were experiencing high rates of economic growth and political stability, making the region more attractive to foreign investors.