The Middle East and North Africa
Ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East region is an issue that directly affects the peace and prosperity of the international community as a whole and is also vitally important for the energy security of Japan, which imports approximately 90% of its demand for crude oil from the region. However, the Middle East region faces numerous issues that threatens its stability, including the Middle East peace process, situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Iran's nuclear development.
Against this backdrop, Japan is proactively engaged in Middle East diplomacy, pursuing the dual goals of ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East in cooperation with the international community, and of securing Japan's energy security.
In 2007, Prime Minister Abe visited five countries in the Middle East from late April to early May, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, and Egypt. During his visits he exchanged views with the heads of state of each country concerning the strengthening of bilateral relations, the ensuring of energy security, and cooperation to address various issues facing international community, including peace and stability in the Middle East.
Foreign Minister Aso attended the International Ministerial Conference of the Neighboring Countries of Iraq, held in Egypt in May, and enunciated Japan's active efforts to address the situation in Iraq. Japan was also proactively engaged in the Middle East Peace Process, with Minister Aso visiting Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories in August and Japan hosting the second ministerial-level meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the Concept of the "Corridor for Peace and Prosperity," a Japanese initiative, locally during his visit.
Furthermore, Japan is promoting various programs fostering dialogue with the countries of the Middle East, with the aim of promoting understanding of Japan's policies towards the region in each country while deepening mutual understanding. In November, the fifth Japan Arab Dialogue Forum and the Japan-Arab Conference were held in Alexandria, Egypt.