Clareto Monsorate, Dubai
Japan and the Middle East have come a long way since their first political dialogue began three years ago. The positive signs of the growing friendship was witnessed during the first Mars mission of the UAE on a Japanese H-IIA rocket that lifted off with the Hope spacecraft, a Mars orbiter developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).
It all began on September 11, 2017, when the first Japan-Arab Political Dialogue was held in Cairo, Egypt.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of League of Arab States, hosted the meeting and then foreign affairs minister Taro Kano attended as representative of the Shinzo Abe government where he stated that Japan is willing to play an even more active role towards peace and stability in the region.
The Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in particular, is the major provider of energy resources that power Japan’s economy.
Japan became the third-largest trading partner of Saudi Arabia, importing $45.4bn in petroleum products and exporting $7.5bn in finished goods. In 2017 the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 was launched by Abe and King Salman as ‘a compass of a new strategic partnership’.
Later, Japan as part of its major initiative towards strengthening the relations with the Middle East announced five new initiatives during the meeting.
In addition to the “Kono Four Principles” which consist of Intellectual and human contribution, investment in “people”, enduring efforts, and enhancing political efforts, Kono announced upgrading the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative and further contributing to the Multinational Force and Observers: MFO.
It also included expanding cooperation on education and human resources development, enhancement of political efforts, and new humanitarian assistance for refugee and stability.
Kono also emphasized it was important to create a platform in which both Japanese and Arab intellectuals could candidly discuss political, security, socio-economic issues, as well as education and culture on a regular basis. The minister also believed Japan and the Middle East could go further as partners to collaborate in much broader global efforts for peace and stability.
Japan has developed excellent relationships with all countries in the Middle East over the years. As such, Japan can, and will take its political initiative to promote dialogues, and build confidence among the parties. As a parting remark, Japan promised to be committed to the Arab region, as a friend and partner of the Arab world, with the new initiatives to be announced soon.
In the morning hours of July 20 in Tanegashima, a small island just off the southern coast of Kyushu, Japan, a 174-foot rocket came to life and lifted a spacecraft on the first leg of a 306-million-mile trip to Mars. The Hope orbiter launched in partnership with Japan will arrive in February 2021 to begin a two-year survey of the weather on the red planet.
“It was an indescribable feeling,” Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s minister of advanced science and the Hope science lead, said after the launch. “This is the future of the UAE.”