Diplomatic Bluebook 2017

Chapter 2

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


Iran is a major Shia-Muslim regional power with land of approximately 4.4 times the size of Japan with a population of about 80 million and is blessed with abundant natural resources. Japan has maintained and strengthened a historically friendly relationship with Iran from the viewpoints of ensuring the stable supply of crude oil and the stability of the Middle East region.

The Rouhani administration, which took office in August 2013, engaged in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue with the EU3 (UK, France, and Germany) +3 (U.S., China, and Russia), and announced a nuclear agreement, “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” in Vienna in July 2015. In accordance with the nuclear agreement, the U.S. and Europe partially suspended or terminated sanctions against Iran in conjunction with the end of sanction related rules against Iran under past UN Security Council resolutions in January 2016 (the “implementation day” under JCPOA).

The scope of cooperation between Japan and Iran has expanded in various areas since the “implementation day.” To strengthen the Japan-Iran economic relations, the Japan-Iran Investment Agreement was signed between Foreign Minister Kishida and Iran's Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Taiebnia during his visit to Japan in February. A Memorandum of Cooperation with Iran concerning Establishment of a Finance Facility, equivalent to as much as 10 billion US dollars, was also signed. In addition, each working group under the jointly established Japan-Iran Cooperation Council, which agreed to be established with Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif during Foreign Minister Kishida's visit to Iran in October 2015, has been working actively and progress in cooperation in environment, transport and nuclear safety areas such as Japan's contribution to the Lake Urmia Restoration Project, a high-level meeting between transportation authorities (Acting Minister of Roads and Urban Development Kashan visited Japan in July 2016) and negotiations for the implementation of the Nuclear Safety Training Course.

Steadily implementing the nuclear agreement is vital for strengthening the system of global non-proliferation and stabilizing the Middle East, so Japan continues to provide assistance. In order to resolve various issues in the region, Japan has been repeatedly urging Iran to promote confidence-building with the international community and regional countries and to play a constructive role in stabilizing the region. Also, Japan has been reinforcing the traditional relationship even further with Iran through the framework of multi-layered bilateral dialogue including high-level political exchanges. A summit meeting was also held on the occasion of the UN General Assembly for the first time since ‘implementation day” in September (the 5th such summit since the inauguration of the Rouhani Administration). Prime Minister Abe said that he appreciated Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement and had high hopes for continued implementation. In addition, in December while on an economic mission, Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif visited Japan for the first time in two years. He paid his respects to Prime Minister Abe as well as holding the 6th Japan-Iran Foreign Ministerial Meeting with Foreign Minister Kishida. Foreign Minister Kishida conveyed that Japan had decided to provide through the IAEA, 550,000 euros for collaboration in the area of nuclear safety and 1.5 million euros for the area of safeguard measures as Japan's support for ongoing compliance with the nuclear agreement. He also urged Iran to take a more constructive role in resolving the various issues in the Middle East.

Apart from this, there were active high-level visits with a view to further strengthening the bilateral relationship including visits to Iran by Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Katsuyuki Kawai, in February and State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kentaro Sonoura, in September, while Iran's Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian visited Japan in October.