Saudi King Begins 4 - Day Japan Visit With Mammoth Delegation

Saudi king begins 4-day Japan visit with mammoth delegationKing Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and his large delegation began a four-day Japan visit Sunday, marking the first trip to the country by a Saudi king in 46 years.
The Saudi king is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and have a lunch with Emperor Akihito during his stay in Japan, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Arriving at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Sunday evening, the Saudi king was welcomed by Crown Prince Naruhito. The 81-year-old king disembarked the aircraft, using a specially-prepared escalator and exchanged greetings with the prince.

Approximately 10 aircraft were required to transport the huge delegation to Japan, a local government official said.

To prepare for the mammoth group accompanying the Saudi king, including royal family members and ministers, over 1,000 rooms at high-end hotels in the capital have been reserved as well as some 500 limousines hired, a Saudi government source said.

In his meeting with Abe, King Salman is expected to seek Japan's cooperation in boosting private-sector investment in the Middle Eastern country.

The king's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, agreed with Abe in Japan last August to work together on a set of reforms called "Vision 2030," which could yield economic benefits for Japan. The crown prince is also defense minister.

Saudi Arabia, the largest crude oil supplier to Japan, is pursuing structural reforms to reduce its economy's heavy dependence on oil amid a slump in crude prices. The initiatives include a planned partial privatization of state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The Japanese government is planning to urge Saudi Arabia to include the Tokyo Stock Exchange among the bourses on which Saudi Aramco shares will be listed.