The important role played by Japanese companies in the east Antrim economy has been highlighted at a reception in London.
First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness hosted the event for Japanese investors. Recent projects in the area have included the creation of 100 jobs at Ryobi, Carrick and 416 at Terumo, Larne.
Over 50 current and potential investors, members of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in London, and Ambassador Hayashi from the Japanese embassy were in attendance.
Mr Robinson said: “This event is a valuable opportunity to recognise the deep and mutually beneficial relationship that continues to develop between Northern Ireland and Japan and to show the Executive’s commitment to supporting overseas companies to invest in Northern Ireland.
“Japan is an important and growing trading partner for Northern Ireland with exports currently worth in excess of £32 million. In recent months over 700 new jobs have been created by Japanese companies such as Terumo, Fujitsu and Ryobi. As a result of new investment and continued re-investment, our six major Japanese businesses will be employing almost 3,500 people in Northern Ireland in the next few years.”
The event was building on the relationship between the two countries and the momentum generated by a visit to Japan in December 2013.
Mr McGuinness said: “We are keen to develop not just our business links, but also our cultural and educational links with Japan. We are encouraged to see growing numbers of Japanese tourists in the north of Ireland and are ready to welcome more in 2014.”