Middle East

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Visit to the Middle East

January 22, 2015

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel, and Palestine from January 16 to 21. The overview is as follows.

1. Itinerary of the visit

(1) Egypt (January 16 to 17)
Japan-Egypt Summit Meeting and luncheon, meeting between President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and accompanying economic mission from Japan, meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, speech on policies on the Middle East at the Joint Meeting of the Japan-Egypt Business Committee, and visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum
 
(2) Jordan (January 17 to 18)
Japan-Jordan Summit Meeting, dinner hosted by His Majesty King Abdullah II and Her Majesty Queen Rania, meeting and luncheon with economic circles of Japan and Jordan hosted by His Majesty King Abdullah II, meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, and visit to the Jordan Museum
 
(3) Israel (January 18 to 20)
Japan-Israel Summit Meeting, dinner hosted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and accompanying economic mission from Japan, courtesy call on President Reuven Rivlin, visit to Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial Museum), attendance at a business forum, visit to the Old City of Jerusalem, courtesy call from Labor Party leader Mr. Isaac Herzog, alumni meeting of participants in the ‘‘Invitation Program for Israeli and Palestinian Youth’’ and the ‘‘Middle East Peace Project’’, and press conference
 
(4) Palestine (January 20)
Summit meeting and luncheon with President Mahmoud Abbas, meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and accompanying economic mission from Japan, visit to the Arafat Shrine

2. Overview and evaluation

(1) Along with affirming the traditionally friendly relationship with major countries in Middle East, this visit strengthened the broad-ranging cooperative relationship in political and economic areas. Additionally, Prime Minister Abe engaged in encouraging the realization of peace between Israel and Palestine, which is indispensable for the stability of the Middle East region. In connection with measures to contend with ISIL, which poses a serious threat to the stability of the Middle East and international order, Prime Minister appealed for cooperation with neighboring countries, and played up  Japan’s presence.
 
(2) In a speech on policies on the Middle East that he made in Cairo, Egypt, Prime Minister Abe shared the view that ‘‘the best way is to go in the middle’’ in regards to the recent disturbance of order in the Middle East region and the expansion in extremism. He declared that Japan will continue to contribute from the standpoint of Proactive Contribution to Peace based on the principle of international cooperation and in order to return to a stable Middle East that is vibrant and where the people of the region can live without anxiety. As a specific contribution measure, he announced new assistance of 2.5 billion U.S. dollars for the entire Middle East region. 
 
(3) Members of the economic mission that accompanied Prime Minister Abe on this visit held meetings with the leaders and company representatives of all four countries and territories, and held events such as the Joint Meeting of the Japan-Egypt Business Committee, and a business forum in Israel. This visit served as an opportunity for Japanese companies to expand their business opportunities in the Middle East through business matching with Middle Eastern companies, greater investment opportunities and participation in major projects.
 
(4) At a press conference for domestic and foreign journalists, Prime Minister Abe commented on a video clip uploaded online that warned the execution of two Japanese nationals by ISIL, which was released during his visit. He stated that this is an utterly impermissible act of terrorism that holds innocent lives as hostages, Japan will not yield to terrorism, and will contribute to the counter-terrorism efforts of the international community, and explained that 200 million U.S. dollars announced during this visit to the Middle East is to make as much contribution as possible in non-military areas, such as to provide assistance to refugees. Prime Minister Abe directly asked Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for necessary support and to gather information to secure the hostage’s lives, and requested support by telephone from His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.

3. Overviews and outcomes in each country

(1) Egypt
  • The view was shared on a comprehensive joint statement that set out targets for deepening the bilateral relationship going forward and opening a new page in the relationship between Egypt and Japan. It was a historical visit that elevated the Japan-Egypt relationship to a higher level.
  • Prime Minister Abe gave a policy speech titled ‘‘The Best Way Is to Go in the Middle,’’ and declared that Japan will continue to contribute to stability in the Middle East, including pledging new Middle East support of 2.5 billion U.S. dollars.
  • As a result of holding a Joint Meeting of the Japan-Egypt Business Committee, and via meetings between President el-Sisi and the economic mission, the visit created opportunities that will lead to participation by Japanese companies in national projects, including the Suez Canal Development Project and the power and energy field, and further expansion in two countries’ economic relationship.
(2) Jordan
  • Prime Minister Abe vowed to support Jordan, which as the country on the frontline of efforts to counter ISIL is being affected by the destabilization of the region, including refugees.
  • Japan and Jordan enjoy an extremely amicable relationship based on the close ties between the Imperial Family and the Royal Family, and active exchanges between the countries’ leaders continue, including a visit to Japan by His Majesty King Abdullah II in November last year and this visit to Jordan by Prime Minister Abe. The two leaders reaffirmed that the strategic relationship between the two countries will be developed further, and they will continue to cooperate on promoting peace and stability.
  • An economic mission accompanied Prime Minister Abe. Signing ceremonies were held in connection with two solar power generation projects that Japanese companies are involved with. A luncheon with His Majesty King Abdullah II was also held.
(3) Israel
  • A Japan-Israel Joint Press Release was issued confirming that the relationship between the two countries has been developing steadily in all fields, including on the political, economic and cultural fronts, since Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Japan in May last year.
  • With regard to the Middle East peace, Prime Minister Abe expressed concern about the chain of violence and mistrust since last summer, and requested that actions that are likely to escalate the conflict be avoided. He strongly requested a review of the suspension of the return of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority that is being implemented by Israel, and also requested a halt to settlement activities, which violate international law. Following on from a Summit Meeting in May last year, Prime Minister Abe expressed hope for greater cooperation by Israel on the ‘‘Corridor for Peace and Prosperity’’ concept. An alumni meeting of participants in the ‘‘Invitation Program for Israeli and Palestinian Youth’’ and the ‘‘Middle East Peace Project’’, which Japan has been undertaking for many years as initiatives for building confidence, was held.
  • The economic mission that accompanied Prime Minister Abe met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and held a business forum. Prime Minister Abe said bilateral relations are deepening in all fields, but within that the progress on the economic front is particularly striking, and there is no reason for Japan, which positions ‘‘innovation’’ as the engine of economic growth, not to cooperate with Israel, which produces innovative technologies. He expressed further expectation that the economic relationship will grow in the future.
  • Prime Minister Abe visited Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial Museum), and issued a message for peace.
(4) Palestine
  • A Japan-Palestine Joint Press Release was issued on promoting the Japan-Palestine relationship and the Middle East peace process.
  • Commenting on the Middle East peace, Prime Minister Abe directly conveyed his intention to strengthen Japan’s commitment and support for Palestine’s nation-building effort, including new assistance of 100 million U.S. dollars in order to achieve a two-state solution.
  • Prime Minister Abe requested Palestine, which is undertaking diplomatic measures at the UN and international organizations, to refrain from any actions, which undermine efforts for resumption of negotiations and Middle East peace.
  • The economic mission that accompanied Prime Minister Abe met with President Mahmoud Abbas, and the meeting created a footing for Japanese companies to contribute to making Palestine’s economy independent.