Japan-Saudi Arabia Relations

Japan-Saudi Arabia Relations (Basic Data)

January 26, 2017

Basic Data

General

Among Japanese contacts with Saudi Arabia before World War II can be cited the pilgrimage to Makkah undertaken by the Muslim Kotaro Yamaoka with a Mongolian group in 1909. He later wrote of the hardships of making pilgrimages. Official contacts have included the visit to Japan by Saudi envoy to England Hafiz Wahab to attend the opening in 1938 of a mosque in Yoyogi, Tokyo, and the 1939 visit to Saudi Arabia by Japanese envoy to Egypt Yokoyama, who had an audience with King Ibn Sa'ud. Major postwar developments were the dispatch in 1953 of the first Japanese economic delegation to Saudi Arabia and the formal establishment of diplomatic relations the following year. One of the centerpieces of the bilateral relationship has been the oil-field concessions granted by Saudi Arabia to the Japanese firm, Arabian Oil Co., and the successful extraction of petroleum thereafter. The concession agreement was signed in December 1957, and trial extractions proved successful in January 1960. The agreement was terminated in February 2000.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955, bilateral relations have taken a smooth course to date. The visit to Japan by Saudi Defense and Aviation Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul-Aziz in 1960 marked the beginning of bilateral visits by dignitaries of both nations, and in 1971 King Faisal visited Japan. Reciprocal visits by members of the Saudi royal and Japanese imperial families and premier and cabinet-level visits have grown more frequent since the "oil crisis" of 1973. In November 1994, the visit of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako to Saudi Arabia opened a new chapter in the history of friendly relations between the two families.

In September 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama visited Saudi Arabia as part of his tour of the Middle East. As for recent developments, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto called for "Comprehensive Partnership toward the 21st Century" that covers comprehensively political, economic and new areas of cooperation between Japan and Saudi Arabia, when he visited Saudi Arabia in 1997. In 1998 Crown Prince Abdullah and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi witnessed the signing of "Japan-Saudi Arabia Cooperation Agenda." Foreign Minister Yohei Kono visited Saudi Arabia in 2001 and announced the initiatives in the following three areas: promoting dialogues with the Islamic World, developing water resources and engaging in diverse political dialogues. During the visit of Prime Minister Koizumi to Saudi Arabia in May 2003, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and H.R.H. Crown Prince Abdullah decided that both countires host commemorative events in 2005. In 2006 Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, who opened the series of mutual visits by dignitaries in 1960, paid an official visit to Japan. In 2007 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Riyadh at the invitation of King Abdullah.

From April 30 to May1 in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and held talks with HRH Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense on a range of bilateral issues and issues of common interest and issued a "Joint Statement on the Strengthening of the Comprehensive Partnership between Japan and Saudi Arabia -From Energy to Synergy-Joint Statement."

In February 2014 HRH Prince Salman visited Japan as official guest of the Government of Japan and held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. On the occasion of this visit by HRH Prince Salman, both governments also issued a Joint Statement expressing both countries' determination to strengthen the Comprehensive Partnership in all fields.

The Japanese Imperial Family and the Saudi Royal Family maintains a cordial relationship. On the demise of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in January 2015, H.I.H the Crown Prince of Japan payed visit to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences.

The Year 2015 marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On this occasion, various commemorating events were took place in both countries, in which Japanese Budo (martial arts) Delegation lead by Mr. Masahiko Komura, Vice President of Liberal Democratic Party, visited Saudi Arabia and exhibited demonstrations in November 2015.

In September 2016, H.R.H. Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud visited Japan as official working visit guest.

In the economic area, Saudi Arabia is the most important supplier of crude oil to Japan, and Japan has become Saudi Arabia's main partner in trade and investment.

Diplomatic Relations:

  • 1955 Establishment of diplomatic relations
  • 1958 Saudi Embassy in Tokyo established
  • 1960 Japanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia established in Jeddah, before moving to Riyadh in 1984

Bilateral Treaties and Agreements

  • 1975 Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation
  • 2009 Agreement for Air Services
  • 2011 Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Tax Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income

Number of Residents

  • Number of Japanese Nationals residing in Saudi Arabia: 1,228 (as of May 2016)
  • Number of Saudi Nationals residing in Japan: around 1,007 (as of December 2015)

Economic Relations

  • (a) Exports and imports, 2015 (Ministry of Finance of Japan)
    Saudi exports to Japan: About 3,035.27 billion Japanese Yen (crude oil, petroleum products, LPG)
    Saudi imports from Japan: About 826.00billion Japanese Yen (automobiles, machinery and equipment, metals)
  • (b) Japanese crude imports (2015) (Ministry of Finance of Japan)
    Imports from Saudi Arabia total about 1.15 million barrels a day, 33.3% of total crude imports

Economic Cooperation

Since Saudi Arabia's GNI per capita is at high level, Japan does not extend funding assistance. But in view of the close economic relationship and Saudi Arabia's great need for technical assistance, Japan provides technical cooperation on a project basis; accepts trainees in sectors such as communications, broadcasting, mining, and manufacturing; sends experts to the country; and offers other forms of assistance. Japan is considering to further promote its assistance to help raise Saudi technological levels in future.

Educational and Cultural Exchanges

  • (1) Mutual visits by youth groups and athletes have taken place since 1985 between Japan and the member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
  • (2) In 1993, a Japanese language department was set up within the College of Languages and Translation of King Saud University.
  • (3) As of 2016 around 500 Saudi students are studying in Japan including under the scholarship program of the Saudi government.

VIP Visits

Visit to Saudi Arabia from Japan
Year Name
1990 Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama
1990 Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu
1992 International Trade and Industry Minister Kozo Watanabe
1994 Crown Prince and Princess
1995 Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
1997 Minister of Education Takashi Kosugi
1997 Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
1999 Minister of International Trade and Industry Mitsuo Horiuchi
1999 State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Nobutaka Machimura
1999 Minister of International Trade and Industry Kaoru Yosano
2000 Minister of International Trade and Industry Takashi Fukaya
2001 Foreign Minister Yohei Kono
2001 Former Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura (Special Envoy for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi)
2001 Minister of Economic, Trade and Industry Takao Hiranuma
2003 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
2005 Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
2005 Crown Prince and Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto
2006 Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Shoichi Nakagawa
2007 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
2007 Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari
2008 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Kisaburo Tokai
2008 Special Envoy of Prime Minister Hiroshi Okuda
2008 Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari
2009 Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
2009 Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
2011 Minister of Econoy, Trade and Industry Akihiro Ohata
2011 Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano
2011 H.I.H. Crown Prince
2012 Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba
2012 H.I.H. Crown Prince
2013 Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi
2013 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
2014 Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi
2015 H.I.H. Crown Prince
2015 Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura, State Minister of Cabinet Office
2015 Mr. Masahiko Komura, Vice President of Liberal Democratic Party
2016 Mr. Yosuke Takagi, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
2016 Ms. Miki Yamada, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
2016 Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry,
Mr. Kentaro Sonoura, State Minister of Foreign Affairs
Visit to Japan from Saudi Arabia
Year Name
1990 Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister and Planning Minister Hisham Mohieddin Nazer
1990 General Presidency of Youth Welfare President Prince Faisal Bin Fahd
1990 Prince Nawaf Bin Abdul-Aziz
1992 Commerce Minister Sulaiman Abdul-Aziz Al-Suleim
1992 Planning Minister Abdul-Wahhab Bin Abdul-Salam Attar
1993 Prince Turki Bin Faisal Bin Abdul-Aziz
1994 Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister and Planning Minister Hisham Mohieddin Nazer
1994 Industry and Electricity Minister Abdul-Aziz Abdullah Al-Zamil
1996 Foreign Minister Prince Saud Faisal
1997 Education Minister Mohammad Bin Ahmad Al-Rasheed
1997 Planning Minister Abdul-Wahhab Bin Abdul-Salam Attar
1998 H.R.H. Prince Salman the Governer of Riyadh Region
1998 H.R.H. Crown Prince Abdullah
2002 Minister of National Economy and Planning Al-Gosaibi
2003 Minister of National Economy and Planning Al-Gosaibi
2003 Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Yamani
2004 Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Al-Naimi
2005 Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Yamani
2006 H.R.H Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
2007 Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Al-Naimi
2007 Secretary-General of the National Security Council Prince Bandar Bin Sultan
2007 H.E. Ali Al Nuaimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
2009 H.E. Ali Al Nuaimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
2010 H.E. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Gosaibi, Minister of Economy and Planning
2010 H.E. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Angari, Minister of Higher Education
2010 H.E. Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al Hussein, Minister of Water and Electricity
2010 H.E. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Assaf, Minister of Finance
2011 H.E. Dr. Nizar bin Obaid Madani, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
2012 H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser. Minister of Planning and Economy
H.E. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah, Minister of Commerce
2012 H.E. Ali Al Nuaimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
2012 H.E. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Assaf, Minister of Finance
2012 H.E. Dr. Nizar bin Obaid Madani, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
2013 H.R.H. Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Minister of Defense
2014 H.R.H. Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
2015 H.E. Eng. Adel M. Fakeih, Minister of Economy and Planning, H.E. Mr. Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, Governor and Chairman of the Board of Directors
2016 H.E. Dr. Abdullah Al Al-Shaikh, President of Shura Council
2016 H.R.H. Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud