QATAR - Diplomacy
Prime Minister, Japan
Shinzo Abe was elected Prime Minister in 2012, marking his second tenure since the 2005 election. Upon graduation from the Department of Political Science at the Seikei University Faculty of Law, he initially worked at Kobe Steel, Ltd., although his distinguished political career began in 1982 with his appointment as Executive Assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Other senior positions held have included Director of Social Affairs Division, President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Chief Cabinet Secretary.
A month after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the CEO of Qatargas, came all the way to Japan to assure us that, “Japan need not worry at all about getting an additional supply of natural gas.“ I can hardly imagine how truly relieved the Japanese side must have been upon hearing that.
Not only that, but he continued on, saying, “Japan is our foundation customer, which has strongly supported the economic development of Qatar. It is now our turn to continue to provide all the support we can.“
We were deeply touched by this. Indeed, I visited Qatar six years ago as Prime Minister. And, for a time, I worked for Kobe Steel. So I know a bit, limited though it may be, about the relationship between Qatar and Japan. In 1974, Qatar constructed a steelworks called Qatar Steel, and it was in fact Kobe Steel that came to be Qatar Steel’s partner in a joint undertaking. This undertaking was still in its early years when I graduated from university and started working for Kobe Steel. I remember that the building of the first integrated steel mill on the Arabian Peninsula came up as a subject at that time.
JOGMEC has just now newly concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar Petroleum. While its objective is to reinforce cooperation in the areas of oil and natural gas, I am especially pleased at the fact that over the past 40 years, the resources and energy relationship between Qatar and Japan has been developed successfully.
Qatar and Japan have been growing side by side, so to speak, up to the present day. We have enjoyed a warm-hearted relationship with a compassionate human touch. I would like to take this opportunity to express once more our sincere gratitude for the heartfelt assistance given to us after the great earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.
I recently visited Qatar for the first time in six years, and I was amazed at how dramatically the scenery has changed through the increase in the number of high-rise buildings. I have heard that in the coming months and years, as Qatar prepares to host the FIFA World Cup eight years from now, well more than JPY10 trillion of demand for infrastructure investment will be generated.
I also heard that in anticipation of this, in just the last few years, as many as 20 countries have newly entered into diplomatic relations with Qatar and launched embassies here.
Moreover, Qatar’s per capita GDP is more than double that of Japan. We rarely see such an affluent market. This is precisely why I recommend the Qatari people to enjoy a variety of Japanese food as well as our highly developed medical technologies and services, and why I would like to aim at Japan and Qatar living and prospering together. Cooperation has already begun between Medical Excellence Japan and Qatar’s Hamad General Hospital. Moreover, I believe Qatar is the best place where Japan’s regenerative medicine can come into widespread use here.
Another example is Japan’s vegetable factories. The highest level of technology in the world can successfully cultivate fresh lettuce in the midst of a parched environment. With one thing and another, I would like the people of Qatar to come to think, “the one who always comes through for us is none other than Japan. I intend to deepen the cooperation between Japan and Qatar across a broad range of areas such as political and security matters, economics, education, agricultural science, medical technologies and services, and culture and people-to-people exchanges, rather than having our relations stay limited to the area of energy. I intend to give relations between Japan and the Middle East a robust push forward, based on the three pillars of collaboration (al-ta’awun), coexistence and co-prosperity (al-ta’Äish), and harmony and tolerance (al-tasÄmuh).
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