After Decades of Distance, Japan and Israel Establish Closer Ties – Cnaan Liphshiz
(dailyalert.org, Jan. 9, 2015)
Buoyed by the Japanese population’s generally positive bias toward Jews, Japan’s government has been actively seeking stronger economic ties with Israel. That’s especially true now that the nation’s decades-long dependence on Arab oil is waning due to America’s increased energy production and Japan’s decreased reliance on fossil fuels. In 2014, trade between the two nations rose by 9.3% to $1.75 billion, according to Israel’s Ministry of Economy.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is heading to Israel later this month for the first state visit in nine years by a Japanese leader. Historian Ben-Ami Shillony of Hebrew University said Israel is a particularly valuable partner for Abe because its unique expertise in defense and military technologies fits his plan for beefing up Japanese military capabilities against an increasingly defiant North Korea.
The Arab Spring also changed Japan’s view of the region in Israel’s favor, according to Naoki Maruyama, a professor of history at Japan’s Meiji Gakuin University. “With the region falling into chaos and internal strife, Israel stands out as the exception – and the place in which to invest.” (JTA)