Japanese PM Promises to Collaborate with Israel

In historic visit to Israel, Abe and Netanyahu discuss rapid expanse in ties, from technology to economics, counter-terror to diplomacy.

Ari Yashar,

Binyamin Netanyahu, Shinzo Abe
Binyamin Netanyahu, Shinzo Abe
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in the midst of an historical three-day visit to Israel after arriving on Sunday, and during meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu he expressed full support for rapidly expanding economic cooperation between the nations.

"There is no reason for Japan, which places innovation as an engine of economic growth, not to cooperate with Israel, which invents innovative technology," Abe said according to the Japanese-language paper Sankei.

Abe, who visited accompanied by representatives from around 30 private Japanese companies in an effort to foster greater business ties, said that he would "like to enter preparatory negotiations" regarding mutual investments with Israel.

Netanyahu and Abe presided over a "Japan-Israel Business Forum" on Sunday night to promote mutual connections, in which Netanyahu emphasized that Israel must shift its focus from Europe to Asia, saying such a move is an appropriate response to the growing "Islamization" and "anti-Zionist" policies coming out of Europe.

Aside from urging greater economic ties, Abe during the visit also made general remarks supporting a return to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), with such statements being standard fare among visiting leaders.

According to the Japanese-language Mainichi Shimbun, Abe said "I worry about the chain of violence and distrust. I would like the great enterprise of realizing peace to be achieved."

Abe also criticized the PA for its recent move to sue Israel for "war crimes" at the International Criminal Court, in a unilateral move in breach of the 1993 Oslo Accords that created the PA.

"I strongly request (from the PA) to avoid moves that do not contribute to Middle East peace," stated Abe, indicating that Japanese recognition of "Palestine" would only come as a result of talks between the PA and Israel, and not unilateral steps taken by the PA at the UN or elsewhere.

Partners fighting terror

The Japanese prime minister also addressed the Islamist terrorist attacks that left 17 murdered in Paris earlier this month, including four Jews murdered at a kosher supermarket..

"Cowardly terrorism cannot be forgiven for any reason, and I would like to firmly condemn (the attacks)," he said.

Netanyahu responded, saying "we must stop terrorism now," and the two agreed to collaborate in the fight against Islamist terrorism.

Speaking in Cairo before coming to Israel, Abe promised $2.5 billion in humanitarian and development aid for countries affected by violent expansion of the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.

Abe's visit, which comes on the heels of a stop in Egypt and Jordan, is highly significant, as it is the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in nine years, and is his first official international trip since being re-elected last month in snap elections that solidified his power.

Making the visit even more meaningful is the fact that last month the Israeli Cabinet approved a landmark plan by Netanyahu to expand ties with Japan in all fields, in a three-year project that represents an investment of millions of shekels and involves numerous governmental ministries.

Israel-Japan ties have been going through a renaissance since last year, including Netanyahu's May visit to Japan, the signing of an Industrial R&D Agreement in July - the first such agreement Japan has signed, a visit last October by Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister, and an official Israeli delegation visit to Japan last November.




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