"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] ARAB COUNTRIES AND JAPAN: PARTNERS FOR PEACE, PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY, Statement by Tatsuo ARIMA, Representative of the Government of Japan, and Japan's Special Envoy for Peace in the Middle East on the occasion of the Arab League Summit

[Date] May 22, 2004
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

The Most Honorable Heads of State and Government and Excellencies:

The Government of Japan is deeply grateful for and honored by your invitation to send its representative as an observer to this Arab League Summit here in Tunis. The Japanese and the Arabs have had a long history of interchanges beginning with through the Silk Road, always respecting each other's unique and rich cultural heritages. We are geographically apart, but are now close indeed in friendship as symbolized by this invitation. And today we consider the peace and the prosperity of the Middle East inseparable from our own. We are partners for peace, progress and prosperity not only for our own interest but also for that of the world. As partners, we value our close and constant dialogue.

This Summit is taking place at a critical moment both for the Middle East peace and for the future of the people of Iraq. As the Beirut Summit in the spring of 2002 issued a most constructive declaration for the peace in the Middle East, we are confident this Summit, too, will bring forth the results encouraging us all about the future of the Middle East.


A comprehensive Middle East settlement is a key to the realization of the region's peace and stability. As regards the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Japan supports its solution through the Road Map, which is the only path leading to a co-existence of two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.

Japan believes that the so-called final status issues such as the border demarcation, the settlements and the return of the refugees should be resolved through negotiations between the two parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians, based on the relevant UN Resolutions, including UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and on the principle of "land for peace". Japan is of the position that, under international law, acquisition of land by force is not admissible and that measures undertaken under such acquisition do not constitute any basis for obtaining territorial title. Japan does not recognize, therefore, any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties concerned.

We are deeply concerned that the Middle East peace process is making little progress and that the cycle of violence and hatred continues. Japan hopes that the both parties resume their efforts to resurrect and pursue the Road Map. The targeted killings of the leaders of the extremists by the Israeli Forces were thoughtless and unjustifiable act, unmindful of its consequences. Japan maintains that the construction of "the Barrier" within the "Green Line" should be stopped. Japan, at the same time, calls on the Palestinian side to demonstrate tangible results in controlling the extremists and to reinvigorate the reform agenda as set in the Road Map.

It is required that the withdrawal of Israel from all Gaza settlements and parts of the West Bank should be realized in a manner consistent with the Road Map which aims to realize the vision of two states. In order to secure such consistency, and thus, to make the withdrawal the first step towards the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, Japan hopes that the negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians take place as soon as possible.

Japan has provided humanitarian and reform assistance as well as some confidence-building measures in preparation for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine amounting to about $680 million since 1993. Japan has decided to extend $10 million financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority through the World Bank's West Bank and Gaza Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund to empower the Palestinian Authority. We will continue our assistance towards the Palestinians. We expect to see the continuity of the vigorous efforts of the Arab states in this field as well.

As Japan is committed to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, we strongly hope for and urge the resumptions of the Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli track negotiations.

It is our belief that this Summit will again demonstrate the commitment of the Arab countries, as was embodied in the Arab Initiative, to resume the path towards the peace, and exercise its leadership to revitalize the peace process.


The transfer of sovereignty to take place in June 30 is a critical step towards Iraq's reconstruction, whose success requires the Iraqis' autonomous and unified efforts as well as the cooperation of the international community with the Iraqis. In this process, it is important that the United Nations will play the central role. Hence we all should give our full support to Mr. Brahimi, now working as Special Envoy of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

To prepare for the transfer, it is important to adopt a new UN Security Council Resolution to secure the support of the international community for the successful future of Iraq and to clarify the role of the United Nations therein. Japan is cooperating with the countries concerned for the adoption of such resolution.

We have promised to provide grant-aid up to $1.5 billion, of which $850 million, including $500 million disbursed to the International Reconstruction Fund Facility For Iraq managed by the United Nations and the World Bank, has been earmarked in spite of the difficulties prevailing in Iraq. We have cooperated with some of the Arab states in extending our assistance to the Iraqis in the fields of medical care and electricity. We are also prepared to extend the yen loan up to $3.5 billion. In addition to these financial contributions, we have dispatched our self-defense forces for the purpose of carrying out humanitarian and livelihood related reconstruction assistance activities.

The Iraqi people have the sole ownership of their reconstruction. Violence yields nothing. A unity among the Iraqis transcending their diversity is indispensable for their creative rebirth. Here the Arab countries could help. We hope this Summit will issue a strong message that it supports the political process currently underway.


We welcome the various reform initiatives underway in the states of the region for development and modernization. We are ready to be of assistance in any way. In so saying, let me emphasize our empirical belief that reform succeeds only when it is carried out by the reformers' own initiative under their sole ownership. In fact, we Japanese ourselves are still in the midst of our own self-reform, the process that could be said to have begun in the mid-19th century, at the time of Meiji Restoration. In this process of modernization, we have deepened our respect for human rights and carried out our democratization. Our own experiences show that there is always a lot to learn from the outside world but it is equally important to respect our own historical legacies which provide the sense of autonomy. It seems that at the core of every civilization, there is a longing for respecting and securing the human dignity, a universal sensitivity. There are various ways to realize this end. But we all ought to be working towards this shared goal of making it certain that the human dignity is secured.


In this age of globalization when the fate of each state is so closely linked to that of all others, Japan is making efforts to develop dialogue with Arab/ Islamic countries in order to further deepen mutual understandings. Some of the examples are: "Japan-Arab Dialogue Forum", "Mission on Cultural Exchange and Dialogue between Japan and Middle East", "Dialogue among civilizations with Islamic countries", "Japan-Sudan Dialogue on human rights". And we seek to multiply such platforms for our intellectual and cultural discourses.

When a peace finally is realized in the whole of the Middle East, so richly endowed with the historical, cultural and religious legacies, and above all with the sophisticated and motivated peoples committed to building their own prosperous futures, it is not only the peoples of the region but also of the world as a whole who would be the beneficiaries of the peace. For this reason, the Japanese will continue to do our utmost to help promote the process towards that end.