The organizing of Summer Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo could become a golden opportunity for Greek businessmen seeking to expand in Japan and help boost weak bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries, Dionysis Protopapas, Economic and Trade Affairs consultant in the Greek embassy in Tokyo told ANA.
“We are not currently known in Japan. Japanese people know our ancient Greek civilization but ignore modern Greece. For Japanese, Europe is almost a single region and negative publicity for the country in recent years does not help. Greece lacks a strong international image, and as a result Japanese consumers find it difficult -in most cases- to relate the country with something specific that could be translated into demand for a product or service. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will turn the lights of publicity on Greece, could become a golden opportunity for Greek businessmen,” Protopapas said.
The Games could mean business for Greek companies of aluminium, marble and stone products, materials very popular in Japan.
Exports of “made in Greece’ products to Japan remain very low -at 95 million euros in 2016- although on a rising trend in the past four years, while outlook for Greek exports remained positive.
Only 20,000 Japanese tourists visit Greece annually, down from 100,000 a decade ago. “The number of Japanese tourists, which rose after the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, fell along with the global economic crisis. But from mid-2016 we have an increase of bookings,” Protopapas said, adding that theme tourism, such as the Athens Classical Marathon could attract thousands of Japanese each year, which could visit
Greece just to run a part of the ancient Marathon route as they are big lovers of the marathon.
Greek investments in Japan are around 13-15 million euros, led by Apivita and Folli Follie. On the other hand, Japanese investments in Greece surpass 30 million euros, led by Tosoh Hellas (based in Thessaloniki), YKK Group, Furukawa-Sky Aluminium and dozens of companies related with the shipping sector.