1. Tokyo meets the world Argentina
    Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaAmbassador of Argentina to Japan Guillermo Juan Hunt
  2. Tokyo meets the world Argentina
    Photo: Kisa Toyoshima(L-R) Original Inc senior consultant Masashi Takahashi; Ambassador of Argentina to Japan, Guillermo Juan Hunt

Tokyo meets the world: Argentina

Recently arrived ambassador Guillermo Hunt shares his first impressions of Tokyo, talks up Japan’s tourism prospects and goes into detail on why Argentina is a renewable energy frontrunner

Written by
Ili Saarinen
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As local readers with a spring in their step and an affinity for Latin rhythms will know, Tokyo is one of the world’s great tango cities. Before the pandemic, at least a dozen milongas (regular tango events) were being held across the metropolitan region – a number bested perhaps only by Buenos Aires itself. And passionate dancing is far from Argentina’s only contribution to the capital: who doesn’t love munching on a gut-busting choripán sandwich or digging into an asado, perhaps followed by some decadent alfajores or a Japan-exclusive Bon o Bon chocolate from the konbini?

With that level of cultural and culinary clout already in the bag, we imagine Guillermo Hunt, Argentina’s ambassador to Japan since April this year, has had a relatively smooth start to his assignment. In this installment of Tokyo meets the World, our ongoing series of interviews with Tokyo-based ambassadors, Hunt sat down with Masashi Takahashi, senior consultant at Original Inc (publisher of Time Out Tokyo) and a former diplomat with extensive experience of sustainability issues, to discuss his early impressions of the city, why Tokyoites may soon be able to buy a lot more Argentine beef, and how Japan and Argentina are already working together towards a greener and more sustainable society.

What’s your impression of Tokyo so far?
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

What’s your impression of Tokyo so far?

Well, my first impression of Tokyo is that it’s one of the greatest capital cities in the world, and when I say that I’m not trying to be kind, I’m being objective. Tokyo has everything, but its distinctly Japanese soul is what stands out to me. I very much like to walk around the city with my wife, exploring everything, because the city is like a world in itself. We especially like discovering historical sites and interesting architecture, and Tokyo is without a doubt one of the world capitals of architecture.

What are some of your favourite places in the city?
Photo: Province of La Rioja –Talampaya National Park, courtesy of Visit Argentina

What are some of your favourite places in the city?

The Roppongi Hills area has special meaning for [Argentines] because that’s where our embassy used to be. It was this big plot with a house that was rented by our government for several decades, then bought, but sold in 1989. We built the [current embassy in Minami-Azabu] only after that. That’s why I’d say Roppongi Hills – apart from it being a very nice area!

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Now that the Olympics and Paralympics are over, where do you see Tokyo going from here?
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Now that the Olympics and Paralympics are over, where do you see Tokyo going from here?

The Olympics provided the whole world with an opportunity to take a look at Tokyo, and once the pandemic leaves us, I have no doubt that the city will receive a huge quantity of visitors from all over the world. Japan as a tourist destination is on top of the list worldwide. Tourism will become one of the country’s main industries, as was already happening before Covid. In no small part, the Olympics demonstrated this society’s capability to organise major events under very difficult circumstances, thereby showing off the capacity of Japan as a country.

What would you like to achieve during your ambassadorship?
Photo: Province of Santa Cruz – Los Glaciares National Park, courtesy of Visit Argentina

What would you like to achieve during your ambassadorship?

My main objectives are to increase Japanese investment in Argentina and to encourage bilateral trade. In fact, we have already finalised the technical steps required in order to export Argentine beef from the entire country to Japan, and are only waiting for final approval.

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That’s great news for carnivores. In terms of investment, many Japanese companies are already active in Argentina, right?
Photo: Province of Mendoza – Vineyard, courtesy of Visit Argentina

That’s great news for carnivores. In terms of investment, many Japanese companies are already active in Argentina, right?

Yes, there’s a longstanding Japanese presence in Argentina. Around 50,000 people of Japanese ancestry live in Argentina, and many important Japanese companies do business in our country. Japanese investments in Argentina are significant and across many different sectors.

[Japanese companies] position Argentina as a platform to export to the rest of Latin America, [which is made possible by] regional economic cooperation agreements such as Mercosur and ALADI, the Latin American Integration Association. This helps Japanese companies sell automobiles and other goods to around 20 countries.

There’s growing interest for sustainable development in Japan, with special focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Are there any opportunities for cooperation between Japan and Argentina in this regard?
Photo: Province of Misiones – Iguazu National Park, courtesy of Visit Argentina

There’s growing interest for sustainable development in Japan, with special focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Are there any opportunities for cooperation between Japan and Argentina in this regard?

Yes, we will actually soon sign an agreement to develop ammonia [as a carbon-free fuel] in cooperation with Japan. Argentina already has some capabilities in this field, while Japan has set very clear targets for it. There’s a great opportunity for cooperation there, and [the agreement] is a big step in the right direction. We also have Japanese and Argentine companies working together to develop hydrogen. As you know, Japan is a leader in the hydrogen industry too.

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How is Argentina approaching renewable energy in general?
Photo: Province of Tucumán – Tafí de Valle, courtesy of Visit Argentina

How is Argentina approaching renewable energy in general?

When it comes to the natural environment, geography is in our favour. Argentina is a country with many different climates and landscapes, and our economic development has taken advantage of the possibilities geography has given us. Our energy production is based on hydropower, gas and now wind.

The Patagonia [region] is one of the largest areas in the world for wind power. There [wind power] is not a distant alternative, but something very concrete, and we even have a Japanese company investing in a [Patagonian wind farm] called Los Hércules. I’m sure that green energy alternatives will continue being an important part of the economic development of Argentina. Interview by Masashi Takahashi. For more information, visit the official Instagram pages of @embajadaargentinaenjapon and @visitargentina

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