Japan Digest #281
Despite the tension and uncertainty in the Middle East due to the U.S.-Iran conflict, PM Abe kept intact the original plan of visiting Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman this week.
He met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on the 12th and with Prince Muhamad in that evening.
Abe held at least three purposes for the meetings with the Saudi leaders.
First, to obtain understanding of Japan’s dispatching two P-3Cs and one destroyer in the region to protect Japanese commercial ships and tankers, which carry petroleum from the Middle East.
Japan depends most of its oil imports on the Middle East nations with around 40% of them from Saudi Arabia.
The 2nd purpose is to take diplomatic balance by showing the respect to the country after last year’s visit to Iran, a powerful rival to Saudi Arabia.
Lastly, PM Abe wanted to ask Saudi to take a position to mitigate the regional tension instead of taking one side to heat up the conflict.
Saudi, especially Prince Muhamad welcomed Abe at his private house for the meeting, and shared his intent to work on the countries of conflict through dialogue, Yomiuri reported.
PM Abe, then, visited UAE on January 13, and met with Prince Muhamad of Ab Dhabi.
His final destination in the Middle East was Oman.
Abe met with Mr. Sayyid Asad bin Tariq bin Teimur al-Said, Deputy to the King and Deputy Prime Minister of Oman on the 14th.
The two nations showed their understanding of Japan’s dispatching military planes and a destroyer in the seas near their countries, and agreed to provide the crews and planes/destroyer of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force with a replenishment base in each country.
Two P-3C Anti-Submarine Warfare planes of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force took off its Naha Air Base in Okinawa on January 11 heading to the Middle East.
Around 60 people including the flight crew and ground staff will have a base at Djibouti of Africa, and operate the two planes to collect intelligence in the Gulf of Aden, north of Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.
They will also conduct anti-pirates missions as before.
In early next month, a destroyer “Takatsuki” will leave its mother base in Yokosuka to participate in the above operations from the surface.
Foreign Minister Mogi, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha got together in San Francisco on January 14.
The three agreed to closely cooperate with each other to materialize a fully denuclearized North Korea.
Japan and Korea expressed their full support to the U.S. position to explore North Korean denuclearization through U.S.-North Korea direct talks.
The three shared the understanding that the UN resolution of the sanctions against North Korea should be fully implemented, and loosening the sanctions is too early to do.
Mogi asked the other two to help Japan solve the North Korean abduction issue.
After this trilateral meeting, Mogi was able to have a separate meeting with Secretary Pompeo and Minister Kang Kyung-wha individually.
After discussing about the Iran and the Middle East issues, Mogi and Pompeo agreed to welcome the 60th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty as of January 19 and to strengthen the alliance together.
Mogi and Kang kept mutual government positions with regard to the drafted workers issue, and to Japan’s strengthening its export control against Korea, while the two agreed to encourage mutual exchanges on a people-to-people and a region-to-region basis, and to disseminate positive messages to support such exchanges from the governments.
Yomiuri reported on January 17 that in his policy speech at the opening of the regular Diet session of January 20, PM Abe will introduce a new anti-climate change strategy titled “Environmental Innovation Strategy”.
Under the strategy, “Zero Emission International Co-research Center will be established at National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
This strategy aims at achieving innovative technologies that reduce 60 billion ton of CO2 every year by 2050 (called “Beyond Zero”!).
Some of the field of technologies in their mind are introduced in the Yomiuri article as follows:
l New concrete for buildings that absorb CO2 as core material
l Convert CO2 to chemical products’ material like plastics and textile using photocatalyst and electrolysis
l Produce jet fuel out of algae that consume plenty of CO2