ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said his government was focusing on reinvigorating ties with Japan in the field of trade and investment. In a meeting with a delegation of Japanese companies, the prime minister said hurdles would be removed in the way of smooth functioning of the investment infrastructure. The prime minister, in this regard, set up a committee to resolve the issues faced by the Japanese companies in Pakistan on a priority basis and sought a report within a week. PM Sharif termed Japan a close friend of Pakistan and lauded that the country was one of the largest donors to Pakistan in the public sector development. He said the generous Japanese donations amounted to $13 billion dollars in seven decades and contributed immensely to the development of Pakistan. He mentioned that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) played a positive role in providing Pakistan the technical support to grant aid and bilateral loans through the conduct of technical feasibility studies. He recalled that in the 90s, several Japanese companies were operating in Pakistan and mentioned that in 2016, the agreement with automobile manufacturing Suzuki resulted in providing employment to thousands of people. The prime minister appreciated the manner Japan focused on improving the public development sector, adding that he was personally inspired by the principles of Japanese business. He stressed immediate steps to exempt the Export Processing Zones from taxes. He invited the Japanese companies to invest in Pakistan’s diverse sectors including coal in Thar, iron ore in Chiniot, renewable energy, infrastructure, and public transport. PM Sharif said Pakistan and Japan were celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2022, and added that by promoting cooperation, Pakistan could benefit from Japan’s experience. He said Pakistan attached great importance to its bilateral ties with Japan and wanted to further expand cooperation in various fields. The Japanese companies expressed full confidence in the business-friendly policies of the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. They also expressed keen interest in increasing investment in electric vehicle manufacturing, food processing, Special Economic Zones, textiles, telecommunications, and auto-parts manufacturing. The delegation included the representatives from Japanese countries, Japan’s ambassador Mitsuhiro Wada, and the Commercial Attache’ of Japan. Federal ministers including Khurram Dastagir, Miftah Ismael, Makhdoom Murtaza Mehmood and the officials concerned attended the meeting.