Quick Notes: Japan & Middle East


PM Shinzo Abe has bee in the Middle East (ME). Some reports say that this trip marks a shift in the Japanese Foreign Policy due to Japan's energy needs (after the nuclear issues in Fukushima).
The brief four notes that you are about to read, also mark this blog's turn to the East.

US$2.5 billion pledge
PM Abe, in Cairo, promised 2.5 billion US dollars in “non-military fields including humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development, intended for the entire region”; he also stated that Japan will pledge US$200 Mio to assist those countries fighting the Islamic State (IS) to absorb refugees – is Japan suggesting that Arab countries should absorb more refugees in exchange for pecuniary assistance? Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt top the Arab nations that have received over 2 million Syrian refugees alone (of a total of 2,979,315 registered refugees [source]); but it's interesting how prospective Arab oil suppliers refused to absorb large numbers of their brethren despite having more means to do so – the same very nations who are prolific in pledging funds to humanitarian causes but seldom ever deliver (yet when we speak of funding madrassas and terror, their name always comes up). Will Japan try to advise those suppliers or will it opt by the "business as usual" doctrine?
The 2.5 billion dollars also include funds to improve Egypt's power grid: this is an excellent idea; one that opens many other possibilities (other than the most obvious ones, like job creation and industrial development).

Collective Self-Defence
Japan, in July 2014, reformed Article 9 of its constitution (that outlawed war as a means to settle international disputes involving the country) meaning that the Japanese State will be able to defend other allies in case of war being declared on them; but how does this move apply to the ME? PM Abe promised Jordan that his country, in the future, will be able to contribute more to help fighting threats to the region (by mentioning UN peacekeeping ops and "other activities" without specifying which kind of activities); however, is Jordan or any other ME nation Japan's ally or was PM Abe referring to Japan's status as a Major Non-NATO Ally?

Arab-Israeli Conflict
"Japan believes that the day will come in the near future when we can recognise Palestine as a state, (...) In order for that day to arrive sooner, we will appeal to both Israel and Palestine to resume negotiations to advance the so-called Two-State Solution." -- PM Abe in Cairo

The use  of the expression “so-called” indicates that Japan has learned that, in order to make business with Arab nations (from whom it intends to buy oil from), it has to repeat that famous mantra in favour of a ex nihilo state; even though the Japanese are not very certain of the viability of such state. But if repeating a diplomatic platitude is all it takes in order to comply to the Japanese voters' demands (i.e. depend less on nuclear energy), so be it.

Final Note
Is this trip really about Japan's energy needs or is it just another way of further challenging China (who, by conceding that the US is leader of the world, seems to be re-directing its focus towards keeping its regional hegemony [since India and Japan are both challenging the Red Dragon in a very clever fashion])? We'll see...

Comments

  1. Japan is going to get into a boiling pan, that's what's doing! Unless they are willing to do like the Chinese who just trade and don't interfere, the Japanese can count on seeing more of their people being kidnapped by Islamists. Don't you find it curious that ISIS asked as ramson US$200 mio, exactly the same amount Japan pledged to countries fighting ISIS? If I was them I'd buy my oil from the US and stay away from that evil region!

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    1. That's right, that amount can't be a coincidence! ISIS is defying Japan!

      Delete
    2. Hi Anonymous :D!

      Indeed, it makes us wonder what will be the price of this involvement in the ME and whether they cooperating with any other ally, doesn't it?
      I do find it rather curious, but I still have to look into it.

      Anon, thank you so much for your comment :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  2. This is a first, you writing about Japan! I can only make one comment: Japan shouldn't repeat a worn out mantra in the name of business with the Arabs. Once they start buying oil from them, their support for Israel will lessen and how is Abe going to juggle all that? I mean Israel-Japan ties are deep and have been reaffirmed, so will Abe do it?

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    1. Hi Ana Raquel :D!

      Well, the time has come for me to pay more attention to Japan; so this is a start.
      The Asian are not like us, they can be extremely pragmatic. This being said, I think PM Abe will be wise in his dealings with Arab nations.

      Raquel, thank you so much for your comment :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  3. Leaving China aside, the natural selection process of non Muslim blocs is what is taking shape slowly, if surely. It will be worth our while to revisit Huntington's Clash Of Civilisations. We have a saying when some one says something nice and we hope that it will come true. I say that to you - Aap kay moohn mein ghee shakkar. It means, I put clarified butter and sugar in your mouth!

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    1. Hi Rummy :D!

      I concur. Oh the famous expression (Clash of Civilisations) that is being rejected by the "intellectuals" and "politicians"? I think you had already suggested this work...the time has come for me to read it.
      Thank you: it's a beautiful saying indeed. *bowing* - it seems similar to "from your lips to God's ears", doesn't it?

      Rummy, thank you so much for your comment :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  4. Japan's demographic and economic mess mean that its role can only shrink for the next half century.

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    1. Hi Looney,

      I read that this year they had more young people turning 20 years old than ever (in the past 21 years) - isn't that a positive indicator that their demography may not be so at risk, if they keep up with the pace? Let's see how the second phase of the Abenomics goes...
      But I do agree that they are being a little too ambitious with their foreign policy; and they chose one hell of a region to start with...

      Looney, thank you so much for your comment :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  5. The Japanese are in for a ride, Max. If, and it's a big if, they are helping the Americans in the region then G-d help them cause they'll need it. The Middle East is a complex region even for the MErs themselves let alone for an honorable people like the Japanese. This venture should be interesting to follow though.

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    1. Hi Adam :D!

      True.
      If my suspicions are correct, Japan knows very well what it's doing.

      Adam, my man, thanks for your comment :D. BTW, great posts this week at your place, eh?

      Cheers

      Delete
  6. I think this trip has little to do with oil, I really do cause Japan could buy it from other closer suppliers. No, I think Japan wants to be inside the hot spot, it wants intel and what best way to do it than...you know what...
    It's awesome to see you pivoting to the East, Max. Good job!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cêcê :D!

      Yes, I know what...
      I'm enjoying it too: it's so refreshing. I wasted too much time on the hopeless West. Why, thank you *bowing*.

      Celeste, thanks for your super comment :D.

      Cheers

      Delete
  7. Thought of the week: taking a swipe at Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, Max? Somehow their names just popped into my brain after reading this week's thought :)

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    1. Hey Carl :D!

      lol What do you think?

      Cheers for your comment, my friend :D.

      Delete

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