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Communist Party’s Kokuta demands cancellation of Japan-Israel EPA talks

 (KOKUTA Keiji)
(KOKUTA Keiji)
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13 Apr 2024 12:04:14 GMT9
13 Apr 2024 12:04:14 GMT9

Arab News Japan

TOKYO: A member of the Japanese Communist Party has called for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to scrap negotiations on an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Israel, saying such an agreement could be seen as condoning Israel’s actions against Gaza.

The JCP’s KOKUTA Keiji demanded that Japan halts negotiations on an EPA with Israel, Amhara reported.

At a meeting of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Kokuta also highlighted Israel’s decision in February this year to approve yet more new settlement construction in the occupied West Bank in violation of international law. Kokuta demanded answers from the government.

Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko responded by saying: “Settlement activities are in violation of international law.” She added that a UN Security Council Presidential Statement, which was unanimously adopted in February 2023, stated that “continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.”

Kokuta noted that the government launched the joint study group into the possibility of a Japan-Israel EPA, and asked if Israeli defense-related companies were part of the study group. The Foreign Minister refused to give an answer.

Kokuta said the aim of a Japan-Israel EPA would be to reduce trade barriers and promote investments between the two nations, as well as to strengthen the economy through the free movement of goods, capital and people in a wide range of fields.

“The conclusion of an EPA with Israel is not consistent with the Japanese government’s position expressing concern over Israeli’s settlement activities,” he said.

Kamikawa said that the government will make a judgement in a timely and appropriate manner based on comprehensive considerations.

In February, the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo posted on X: “In recent years, we’ve witnessed a positive trend in economic relations between the countries, including collaborations between Israeli and Japanese companies in different fields.”

Sources believed that a first draft agreement could be presented by the second half of 2024 and signed in 2025, but that was before Israel invaded the Gaza Strip. Negotiations are ongoing.

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