Countries & Regions

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Middle East

May 4, 2013
Japanese

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and the Republic of Turkey (Ankara) from Tuesday, April 30 to Friday, May 3. The overview of the tour is as follows:
 
  1. Itinerary
     
    (1) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (April 30-May 1)
    Prime Minister Abe held a meeting  and attended a dinner hosted by Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, and had talks with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on the phone. He also witnessed the signing of the Japan-Saudi Arabia Investment Agreement, delivered a speech on Japan's Middle East policy at King Abdulaziz University and held talks with members of Japan's economic mission accompanying him to the kingdom.
     
    (2) United Arab Emirates (May 1-May 2)
    Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with and attended a dinner hosted by Crown Prince General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, and participated in the Japan-UAE Business Forum in Abu Dhabi. He visited Dubai Metro, conferred with UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and attended a luncheon hosted by him in Dubai as well. The Prime Minister also witnessed the signing of the Japan-UAE double taxation convention and the Japan-UAE nuclear cooperation agreement.
     
    (3) Republic of Turkey (May 2-May 3)
    Prime Minister attended a meeting of the Japan-Turkey Business Council, laid a wreath at the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk and visited the Turkish-Japanese Foundation Culture Center. He held a summit meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a press conference. He also held a summit meeting joint by business leaders of both countries, attended a signing ceremony and made a joint press announcement, and attended a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Erdogan.
     
  2. Overview and Evaluation
     
    (1) Objective and Features of Tour
     
    (a) The objective of Prime Minister Abe's visit to the Middle East was to turn Japan's relationship with the region, which has centered on resources and energy, such as oil trade, into a multilayered relationship that encompasses wide-ranging economic cooperation, politics and security, and cultural and human exchanges. With this objective in mind, he delivered a policy speech in Saudi Arabia on Japan's Middle East policy for the first time as Prime Minister of Japan, and declared that Japan will drastically strengthen its relations with the region in order to build a comprehensive partnership toward stability and prosperity. This served as a turning point to show, both domestically and internationally, the stance of Prime Minister Abe's administration which places emphasis on the Middle East to show, both domestically and internationally, the stance of Prime Minister Abe's administration which places emphasis on the Middle East, and to build comprehensive, multilayered relations with the countries in the region.
     
    (b) The most prominent feature of the tour was that the largest ever economic mission, comprising more than 100 Japanese business leaders, including those from the agricultural and medical sectors, accompanied Prime Minister Abe to the Middle East. The high-powered mission was able to sell Japan's strengths to help start full-scale economic diplomacy.
     
    (2) Comprehensive Partnership toward Stability and Prosperity
     
    (a) "Collaboration": Contribution to Stability in the Middle East
     
    Cooperation in the areas of politics and security for stability in the Middle East: As stability in the region contributes to Japan's security, Japan is determined to play an increasing political role toward the regional stability through cooperation in activities for counterterrorism, security, assistance for regional stability and democratization. To this end, the Government of Japan announced new assistance amounting to 2.2 billion US dollars to the Middle East and North Africa. During the tour, Japan decided to create a security dialogue with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and to start periodic meetings between the Foreign Ministers of Japan and Turkey.
     
    (b) "Coexistence and Co-prosperity": Expansion and Deepening of Economic Relations
     
    Expansion and deepening economic relations: As the high economic potential of the Middle East directly leads to Japanese growth, Japan will build a wide-ranging relationship beyond energy. Japan's agricultural products and top-notch medical equipment and technology will help improve the quality of life in the countries of the region and Japan will promote cooperation in these fields. It was a great achievement that many documents regarding business cooperation were signed during the tour, setting such cooperation in motion. The Middle Eastern countries showed strong interest in Japan's cutting-edge nuclear technology and Japan signed three agreements on nuclear energy cooperation.
     
    (c) "Tolerance and Harmony": Strengthening Cultural and Human Exchanges
     
    Strengthening cultural and human exchanges: Japan will promote cooperation in human resources development and education in the Middle Eastern countries with understanding of and respect to each other's histories and cultures. Specifically, Japan announced exchanges of about 20,000 people through inviting trainees from and sending experts to the Middle Eastern countries over the coming five years. It will also accept more students coming to study in Japan.
     
     
  3. Visit to Each Country and Results
     
    (1) Saudi Arabia
     
    Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, and telephone talks with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, which was followed by the release of "the Joint Statement on the Strengthening of the Comprehensive Partnership between Japan and Saudi Arabia, -From Energy to Synergy-" (Attachment 1). Specific results in various fields are as follows:
     
    (a) Collaboration
     
    The two countries decided to promote high-level political dialogue, start security dialogue, continue defense exchanges and promote dialogue on international terrorism, expanding bilateral cooperation to the areas of politics and security.
     
    (b) Coexistence and Co-prosperity
     
    Prime Minister Abe asked Saudi Arabia for  stable oil supply  and said Japan can make a contribution in the fields of energy saving, renewable energy and nuclear power. The two countries shared the importance of two-way energy cooperation and of the promotion of working-level consultations on nuclear power cooperation. Welcoming the progress of the Japan-Saudi Arabia Industrial Task Force, they decided to cooperate in not only energy, but infrastructure development and the medical sector as well. Prime Minister Abe explained the new scheme of cost-sharing technical cooperation offered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the two countries decided to strengthen cooperation in the development of industry and human resources. They signed the Japan-Saudi Arabia Investment Agreement.
     
    (c) Tolerance and Harmony
     
    The two countries welcomed an increase in the number of Saudi Arabian students studying in Japan and shared the importance of human resource development of younger generations and of strengthening educational cooperation, human exchanges and intellectual dialogue.
     
    (2) UAE
     
    Prime Minister Abe had talks with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed in Abu Dhabi and Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed in Dubai, which was followed by "the Joint Statement on the Strengthening of the Comprehensive Partnership between Japan and the UAE toward Stability and Prosperity", along with a fact sheet on the partnership and a list of memoranda on cooperation (Attachment 2). Specific results in various fields are as follows:
     
    (a) Collaboration
     
    Japan and the UAE decided to hold high-level consultations between their foreign ministries frequently and conduct a security dialogue on security between their foreign and defense ministries at the vice minister/director-general levels.
     
    (b) Coexistence and Co-prosperity
     
    Prime Minister Abe asked the UAE for a stable energy supply  and said Japan can make contribution in the fields of energy saving, renewable energy and nuclear power. The two countries shared the importance of the two-way energy cooperation. They also decided to cooperate in infrastructure and the medical field in addition to energy cooperation. The Prime Minister introduced the new scheme of cost-sharing technical cooperation offered by JICA and the two countries decided to strengthen cooperation in the development of industry and human resources. Prime Minister Abe asked for further easing of restrictions on imports of food made in Japan. In response, the UAE side said that the country will positively consider easing the restrictions. The two countries signed the Japan-UAE Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. Japanese companies of the economic mission also signed various memoranda on cooperation with their business counterparts of the UAE taking this opportunity.
     
    (c) Tolerance and Harmony
     
    Prime Minister Abe said Japan would accept 500 UAE students to study in Japan over the coming five years and the two countries decided to strengthen educational cooperation and human exchange. He told the UAE leaders that Japan plans to reciprocally waive entry- visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports and grant multiple visas to holders of general passports such as tourists. The UAE highly appreciated the decision.
     
    (3) Turkey
     
    After a summit meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a meeting joined by business leaders from both countries, the two Prime Ministers signed a "Joint Declaration on the Establishment of Strategic Partnership between Japan and the Republic of Turkey" (Attachment 3), exchanged signed original documents of two agreements on nuclear energy cooperation and made a joint press announcement. Specific results are as follows:
     
    (a) Collaboration
     
    The two Prime Ministers agreed to hold more frequent meetings between the Prime Ministers, launch periodic meetings between Ministers for Foreign Affairs and promote bilateral consultations and dialogues on and cooperation in the fields of diplomacy, finance, health, education, culture, defense, public security and disaster management. They also agreed to strengthen cooperation on issues related to peace and stability in the region, including Syria, and in international for a, such as the fight against terrorism, arms reduction and prevention of nuclear proliferation, and assistance to third countries.
     
    (b) Coexistence and Co-prosperity
     
    The two Prime Ministers agreed to promote bilateral trade and investment, and raise the bilateral economic relations to a higher level. In this context, they agreed to expedite the process for eventually concluding the Japan-Turkey Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between Japan and Turkey. They signed two agreements on nuclear energy cooperation and Japan obtained the exclusive right of negotiating for the Sinop nuclear power plant project. They welcomed increasing participation and investment by Japanese businesses in various fields represented by orders in communication and broadcasting satellites, hospitals, the Bosphorus Rail Tube Crossing Project, and the Izmit Bay Bridge Construction Projects, and expressed their expectations for further Japanese contributions in these fields.
     
    (c) Tolerance and Harmony
     
    The two Prime Ministers agreed to cooperate in disaster management, by utilizing Japan’s improved yen loan system, in science and technology, including the establishment of a joint university of science and technology, and in space.