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Turkey turmoil has not put us off: Mitsubishi

Political turmoil has cast a shadow over Turkey, but Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi told CNBC the country remains an attractive investment destination.

Turkey's ruling party - the AKP - which has been in power since 2003, was hit by a high level bribery and corruption scandal which sparked street protests late last year. More recently, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan temporarily banned social media site Twitter, provoking international criticism about the country's control on freedom of expression.

Further muddying its reputation, credit ratings agency Moody's last week downgraded Turkey's sovereign rating to negative, while steep falls in its domestic currency forced its central bank to hike rates by 400 basis points in January.

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But Hiroshi Miyoshi, Mitsubishi's Corporation's CEO for Turkey, the Middle East and Caucasus, told CNBC that he has not been put off by the negative headlines.

"There are several good fundamentals in Turkey regardless of politics," he said. "Those advantages and fundamentals remain unchanged. We are not short-term investors; we have every intention to continue to make investments in Turkey."

Potential trade deals between Ankara and Tokyo have facilitated a recent trade boom between the two countries. In 2013, Japanese firms invested $500 million in Turkey, with investments coming from firms across various industries including Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Hitachi and Ajinomoto. This marked a huge jump on the 2012 figure of $33 million in 2012.

On Sunday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida agreed with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu to bring forward preparatory talks for a bilateral free trade agreement, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

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Supporters of newly elected mayor of Ankara, from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), cheer in Ankara on April 5, 2014.
AFP | Getty Images
Supporters of newly elected mayor of Ankara, from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), cheer in Ankara on April 5, 2014.

"Turkey is very attractive for many reasons. Turkey's population is very large with 77 million and also the population is very young with half the population under 30 years old," said Mitsubishi's Miyoshi.

"The second advantage is its geographical advantage, within the range of four hours flight we can reach 54 countries and 1.5 billion people," he added.

Miyoshi said Japanese businesses have been encouraged by the government's drive to promote relations between the countries.

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"Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Turkey twice last year. It's very exceptional for a Japanese prime minister to visit a country twice within a year, apart from the U.S.," he added.

However, one sticking point between the two nations has been the radiation testing that Turkey has been carrying out on Japanese food products since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant crisis, which Kishida reportedly asked Davutoglu to ease.

Japan is the sixth largest foreign investor in Turkey; 200 Japanese companies have invested there.

Mitsubishi is a Japanese industrial, machinery and foods conglomerate which operates in around 90 countries worldwide. The conglomerate owns a leading share of Intercity, Turkey's largest car leasing company and is aggressively pursuing opportunities in the energy and manufacturing industries.

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