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Christopher Luxon off to Tokyo with business delegation

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The prime minister is Tokyo-bound and poised to tap into the potential he sees in New Zealand’s relationship with Japan.

Christopher Luxon is leading a delegation of business heavyweights on a three-day mission beginning Sunday morning, leaving on a Boeing 757 from Whenuapai.

Speaking to RNZ before the trip, Luxon said he was “really excited” to be taking the top brass of some of New Zealand’s biggest companies with him.

“I know Japan well as a country, having visited there many, many times and I know the economic opportunities that exist there.

“I’m excited for those companies and how they can present themselves and how New Zealand can present itself in an economic sense.”

More than 30 companies were represented on the trip, including Air New Zealand, ANZ, Fonterra, Silver Fern Farms, Zespri and Rocket Lab.

Luxon listed three objectives for the trip: reinvigorating existing business, promoting Japanese investment and developing his political relationship with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

“I’m excited to build good relationship and rapport, as I’ve been doing with other world leaders, with Prime Minister Kishida.

“The fact that they’re hosting us for a very formal dinner Wednesday night is a big deal and that just says from their end they’re very keen to reciprocate and to engage with us as well which is important.”

Boosting trade and investment in both established and emerging sectors was key to growing New Zealand’s economy, Luxon said.

Christopher Luxon on Tuk Tuk tour in Bangkok, April 2024.

Luxon has been conducting a number of visits to Asia, including Singapore (pictured) and the Philippines.
Photo: Dan Brunskill

“We have a huge infrastructure deficit in New Zealand and so being able to attract Japanese investors to make joint venture arrangements or make investments in New Zealand, whether it be in geothermal assets, renewables, space or forestry is really, really important, because that’s how we unlock growth and create more security for our people.”

Luxon would round off the trip with a bilateral meeting with Kishida, where it had been signalled the pair would share perspectives on defence and security in the increasingly contested Indo-Pacific region.

Both New Zealand and Japan were exploring involvement in Pillar 2 of the AUKUS security pact, though Luxon said it was unlikely he would raise this with Kishida.

He said the two countries had discussed joint military exercises and wanted to increase cooperation on defence and security.

“We look at Japan as a like-minded country. It believes in the international rule of law; it’s benefited from that over the last 60 years or so as [has] New Zealand.

“They have values that respect sovereign nation states, freedom of navigation, international trade and they’re believers in multilateralism.”

Both countries agreed to work up a deal to make it easier to share classified information when former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in Japan in 2022.

Asked about the potential for progress on this trip, Luxon hinted he would have more to say about it in the coming days.

“[Japan has] got lots of countries that want to do information sharing agreements with them; many much larger than New Zealand.

“So what I’ve been working hard at is to make sure that we can push our priority up the list of countries that they’re dealing with. We’ll have more to say about that on the road.”

Luxon is accompanied by his wife Amanda and Trade Minister Todd McClay on the Tokyo trip.

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