Visit to Japan of Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance
Ataollah Mohajerani of the Islamic Republic of Iran
(Outline and Evaluation)

25 September 2000
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

1. Outline

(1) Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ataollah Mohajerani, accompanied by a suite consisting of Vice-Minister for Arts, Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Morteza Kazemi and two other officials, visited Japan from 19 (Monday) to 23 (Saturday) September.

(2) During his visit, Minister Mohajerani had an audience with His Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa at the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Mitaka City, had talks with Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono, had talks and a dinner meeting with Minister of Education Tadamori Oshima, and a working breakfast with Senior State Secretary for Transport Shinya Izumi. Minister Mohajerani also had an opportunity to have discussions with Dr. Shigehiko Hasumi, the President of the University of Tokyo, and scholars from the Institute of Oriental Culture of the university. Minister Mohajerani delivered a lecture at the Foreign Press Center and paid a visit to the Toyo Bunko (the Oriental Library), among other events. On this occasion, Minister Mohajerani actively conducted consultations and exchanges of views, further deepening Japan-Iran cultural relations.

(3) In addition, Minister Mohajerani also visited Nara, including the Nara National Museum and Todai-ji Temple, where he had an exchange of views on the religious and cultural affairs of Japan and Iran with Dr. Kosei Morimoto, chief abbot of the Daibutsu (Great Statue of Buddha) Hall at the temple, who is also well versed in Islam. Also in Tokyo, in addition to the official events, Minister Mohajerani made active approaches to Japanese culture through personal appreciation of a Noh play and ancient ceremonial court music, and purchase of some publications on Japan.

2. Evaluation

(1) Minister Mohajerani is an important figure in Iran's internal politics, who plays a central role in advancing the domestic reforms under the leadership of President Mohammad Khatami; he is positively promoting freedom of the press and expression. He has earned the confidence of the Iranian people second to President Khatami. Through the various exchanges of views that took place during this visit, a favorable impression was exerted upon those key figures who are expected to exercise influence in Iran also in the future.

(2) This visit was conducted as part of the efforts to strengthen Japan-Iran dialogue at high levels of government, reinforced in recent years through such events as the visit to Iran by then Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura in August 1999. It is considered to have contributed to the further promotion of Japan-Iran dialogue in the lead up to the visit to Japan of President Khatami, scheduled to take place within the year.

(3) At various opportunities during his visit, Minister Mohajerani indicated his evaluation of cooperative relations so far between Japan and Iran and set forth his expectations for the expansion of cooperation between Japan and Iran in relation to cultural aspects, including the preservation of archaeological sites, tourism promotion, and the arts.

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