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The trip to Japan by the 81-year-old is the first visit by a Saudi king in 46 years. The volume of trade between the two countries reached SR117.9 billion in 2015. The economic program, though, could pave the way for a new business relationship between the countries.

The king's group is two to three times the size of the delegation led by his son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that visited Japan in September previous year. The Council of Saudi Chambers is dispatching two business delegations during the king's visit to Japan and China, he said.

Tokyo, March 13 (Jiji Press)-Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinz┼Ź, at a meeting with visiting Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on Monday, offered Japan's public-private cooperation to help Saudi Arabia realize its exit from an oil-reliant economy.

Mr Abe, reaffirming that the two countries are "strategic partners", added: "Japan will further promote investment and technology cooperation in support of Saudi Arabian economic reforms". Saudi Arabia will look at relaxing visa requirements for Japanese nationals, too.

"We would like to more aggressively develop relations with Saudi Arabia, the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East", Abe stressed during the meeting.

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The plan is aimed at helping Saudi Arabia diversify its heavily oil-dependent economy.

The king told the Emperor through an interpreter that he is very glad to visit Japan, which he called his "second home".

A document for cooperation signed by Japan and Saudi Arabia on Monday indicated that the two countries will move to strengthen economic ties. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king's son, is spearheading the effort, announced a year ago and dubbed Vision 2030.

He will also be hosted to a lunch banquet by Emperor Akihito.

The entourage has made headlines around the world for its size and luxury, at least 25 princes, 10 ministers, 700 support staff and 500 tonnes of baggage are accompanying the king as he continues his journey through Asia.


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