Diplomatic Bluebook 2019

Chapter 2

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

Section 6 The Middle East and North Africa

1 Overview

The Middle East and North Africa are situated in a geopolitically important location at the intersection of Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia. This region contains major international maritime routes for international commerce and is also an important supplier of energy resources, including crude oil and natural gas, to the rest of the world. On the other hand, the region faces a number of destabilizing issues such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other violent extremist groups, the vast number of refugees that are flowing into nearby regions, the prolonged crisis in Syria, the Middle East Peace Process, the tensions between countries in the region, and domestic conditions in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya. Achieving peace and stability in this region is of great importance for the world as a whole, including Japan, and Japan is working with the international community to resolve these issues.

Japan relies on the Middle East for more than 80% of its crude oil imports and has developed ties with countries in the Middle East and the North Africa region (hereinafter, “countries in the Middle East”) that have centered on the resources and energy sectors. Today, however, beyond these relationships, Japan works to build more multi-layered ones including wide-ranging economic cooperation, politics and security, and culture and people-to-people exchanges. Specifically, Prime Minister Abe has visited this region seven times since the inauguration of the second Abe administration in December 2012. Foreign Minister Kono has also visited the region eight times since taking his current position in August 2017. High-level visits, meetings, and talks are also held actively.

In particular, Foreign Minister Kono has given strong commitment to this region as one of six pillars of Japan's foreign policy. The “Kono Four Principles1” that he set forth at the first Japan-Arab Political Dialogue held in Egypt in September 2017 forms the basic principles of his Middle East policy. The four principles are: (1) intellectual and human contribution, (2) investment in people, (3) enduring efforts, and (4) enhancing political efforts. Based on the “Kono Four Principles,” Japan provides support for the Middle East Peace Process and dialogues to resolve issues in Syria and other countries. As a part of its efforts to support Palestine, Japan is also advancing the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative and the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (CEAPAD) (See Special Feature “Japan's Support for Palestine (JAIP, CEAPAD)”). In April 2018, the Senior Officials Meeting on Supporting Job Creation and Vocational Training to Facilitate Weapons Reduction for Iraqi Society2 was held with an aim of stabilizing Iraq after the withdrawal of ISIL (post-ISIL). At the IISS Manama Dialogue held in October, which Foreign Minister Kono attended for the second consecutive year, he emphasized that Japan will make use of its experiences to support reform efforts by the Middle East countries through human resource development and other means. Japan will make full use of its friendly relations with the Middle East countries and its alliance with the U.S. to continue implementing its own initiatives toward realizing peace and stability in the Middle East.

Although the area controlled by ISIL has decreased significantly in size, the Syrian crisis remains unresolved. Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, Japan has provided support worth more than 2.5 billion US dollars in total to Syria and its neighboring countries, including support to Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, which have been affected by an influx of Syrian refugees. Japan will continue to provide humanitarian support for all Syrians who need it, while supporting the Syrian political process led by the United Nations.