17 February 2019 - 12 Adar I 5779 - י"ב אדר א' ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Jewish Times Asia
In a week-long trip in January, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Sekō led the largest-ever delegation of Japanese businessmen to visit Israel. Well over 90 representatives of major companies, including top executives from Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Hitachi, participated in the trip.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen met with Minister Hiroshige Sekō on 15 January. This was the Japanese minister’s third visit to Israel in the past four years, and was an additional milestone in the deepening of bilateral economic relations and commercial co-operation between the two countries.

“There’s been a tremendous increase in Japanese investments in Israel. In the last few years, Japanese investments in Israel have grown by a factor of 120. Last time I spoke it was 44 times bigger. It’s growing at an astronomical rate. Actually, it’s worth five billion dollars today, but it is growing very rapidly,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“Our relationship is a natural one. Prime Minister Abe and I agreed that we have to upgrade the economic relations, and this visit is part of that. I welcome you and your colleagues. We want to see more trade, more tourism, more investments in both directions. Welcome to Israel,” added Netanyahu. Some executives from Japanese corporations also met with Netanyahu.

During the visit, the two economy ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding about digital health and the advancement of bilateral co-operation in cyber and the automotive industry. In all, the two nations set up a total of six agreements. “We are starting to see the fruits of strengthening the economy between Japan and Israel,” Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen said at a meeting of the Japan Israel Innovation Network (JINN) Business Forum, during which the accords were signed. The business forum was set up in May 2017 to promote economic co-operation.

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North Korea ordered to pay compensation to US family after student’s death E-mail

A US court has ordered North Korea to pay US$501 million to the family of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old Jewish student who died in 2016 after being imprisoned there. 

In December, a District Court judge in Washington, D.C., awarded the Warmbiers approximately half the US$1.05 billion they had requested in their punitive damages lawsuit in April 2018.

Warmbier had been travelling to Hong Kong for a studyabroad programme when he decided to visit North Korea on a guided tour. While visiting that country in January 2016, he was accused of trying to steal a propaganda banner. He was imprisoned by the North Korean government and suffered severe brain damage, but there were no external signs of physical trauma.

In June 2017, Warmbier was evacuated in a coma and was taken home to his family in Cincinnati. He died six days later in hospital. A North Korean spokesman denied that Otto Warmbier had been tortured while in custody, Fox News reported. 

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Israel ranks as world’s third-most-educated country E-mail

According to 2017 data recently released, compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israel has outranked US and South Korea for the percentage of citizens aged 25-64 holding a degree in higher education, whether academic or vocational. 

OECD calculated the percentage of each country’s population between the ages of 25 and 64 who have completed a twoor four-year degree beyond high school – including both academic and vocational programmes. 

The data shows that 50.9% of Israelis in the target age bracket have a higher-education degree. The report noted that Jewish Israelis enter college at a later age than most Western counterparts because most serve in the military for at least two years after high school. 

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EU to map and protect cemeteries in Eastern Europe E-mail
In January, the European Union (EU) awarded close to US$1 million to a project that aims to map and survey at least 1,500 Jewish cemeteries in the continent’s east. 
The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (ESJF) announced the EU tender. Since the group’s establishment in 2015 with a grant from the German Government, it has helped protect over 120 Jewish cemeteries in seven Central and Eastern European countries. 
The mapping process will use state-of-the-art technology especially designed for the project. Around the cemeteries that ESJF maps and demarcates, the organisation typically sets up perimeter fences that it says dramatically reduce the risks to the sites. Eastern and Central Europe have well over 10,000 Jewish cemeteries facing various degrees of risk. 
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Israel’s Knesset approves exports of medical marijuana E-mail

As widely anticipated, Israel’s Parliament (Knesset) has unanimously approved a law to permit exports of medical marijuana, allowing Israel to tap the lucrative global market. 

The government’s announcement of the decision in late December means that Israel will become the third country, after the Netherlands and Canada, to take its medical cannabis global.

The Israeli medical cannabis company iCAN predicts that the value of the global industry will reach US$33 billion in the next five years, as stigma fades and demand grows for the few countries certified to export. 

“Israel, already the most advanced nation in cannabis R&D, will now be able to produce and market cannabis and cannabis-based products that will help millions of people suffering from illnesses including cancer, MS, Parkinson’s, sleep disorders, epilepsy and PTSD, to name just a few,” noted Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN. “We are proud of our forward-thinking government and will continue to work together to build the industry and help patients worldwide to access safe, quality medical cannabis,” he added. 

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