Diplomatic Bluebook 2015

Chapter 2

Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map

1.Situation in Iraq

Following the conclusion of the military operation in Iraq in 2003, Iraq has been working on the new nation building. In terms of the domestic policy, the issue that Iraq faces is the development of national reconciliation among all domestic parties including the Shia majority, Sunni minority and Kurd.

On April 30, 2014, the third parliamentary elections in September, Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who had been in that position for eight years over two terms of office, had resigned and the new government led by new Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi was formed. Prime Minister Al-Abadi has been taking steps towards national reconciliation by coordinating with a variety of domestic political forces, which resulted in an agreement to appoint an interior minister and defence minister, which had been vacant under the Al-Maliki administration. He has also held dialogues with Sunnis and Kurds.

A major security concern of Iraq is the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) (See Focus on page 20 for details). After an armed clash between the armed groups mainly consisting of ISIL and the Iraqi army/security forces, ISIL has taken control of Ramadi of Al Anbar Province and Fallujah in western Iraq in January 2014. A series of offensive by ISIL and other armed forces since June has led to its successive occupation of many northern towns and villages, including Mosul of Nineveh Province. This has created a huge number of internally displaced persons and a serious humanitarian crisis.

The immediate priority of the Al-Abadi administration is to fight ISIL and drive them out of the country in cooperation with the international community. In December 2014, the Al-Abadi government reached an agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government on the allocation of oil revenue.

It is also studying the establishment of the national guard in each Province. This is considered as a measure to address discontent among the Sunnis, which is said to be the background of the expansion of ISIL’s influence in Iraq.

Japan has been maintaining and strengthening a good relationship with Iraq since the end of the military operation in Iraq in 2003. With the Al-Abadi administration, a summit meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Fuad Masum, and a Foreign Ministers’ meeting between Mr. Fumio Kishida and Mr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari were held when they attended the UN General Assembly in September 2014. Taking these opportunities, Japan expressed its support for the “fight against terrorism” conducted by the international community including Iraq and conveyed its intention to continue support for the new Iraqi government in its efforts to realize stability and national reconciliation. In these meetings, there were candid exchange of views on the participation of Japanese companies in various projects in areas such as energy and electricity, and improvement in the investment environment of Iraq towards further development of the Japan-Iraq relations.

In July 2014, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Takao Makino visited Erbil, Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, to have a meeting with high-level officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Also in October, many Japanese companies participated in the Baghdad International Fair.

In February 2015, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kentaro Sonoura visited Bagdad, the capital city of Iraq, as well as Basra, one of the major cities in southern Iraq, to exchange views with the Iraqi government officials. During the visit Parliamentary Vice-Minister Sonoura conveyed Japan’s firm stance that its assistance to the Middle East region as a whole is unwavering even after the killing of two Japanese nationals by ISIL terrorists, and that Japan will steadily continue its contribution in the non-military field such as humanitarian assistance and support for nation building in Iraq, which is confronting extremism.