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Shinzo Abe

SAUDI ARABIA - Diplomacy

Two-Way Street

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.

There are many examples of strong collaborations between our two nations. Petro Rabigh, as a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical, has solidified its reputation as one of […]

There are many examples of strong collaborations between our two nations. Petro Rabigh, as a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical, has solidified its reputation as one of the world’s leading ethylene centers. Toyota Motor Corporation went all out in helping grow the Saudi-Japanese Automobile High Institute. The institute has already trained more than 1,000 automotive engineers.

Isuzu Motors recently inaugurated a new truck assembly plant in Saudi Arabia. That was in December 2013. These companies and their Japanese staff are genuinely committed to training future generations of Saudi Arabian engineers in the core essentials of manufacturing craftsmanship as bred in Japan.

There are some who are eager to put fresh Japanese crops on your tables in the Middle East. From the field of medicine, there are also others who yearn to contribute their expertise, for example, in diagnostic imaging and emergency medicine to the medical advancement and the expansion of health care throughout the region.

Japanese solar panels are already known for their durability. I am confident that the collaboration between us, Japan and the Middle East, will equip the panels with further resistance against harsher environments, such as sand storms. The new sources of electric power that Saudi is developing, using Japanese assistance, will put the Kingdom at the core of the vast grid stretching from Asia to Europe.

As a country where its water system has amongst the lowest leakage rates in the world, I am certain that Japan will also be able to make contributions to the development of modern water infrastructure in the Middle East. Does anyone here have any idea as to how much water is being leaked in Tokyo? It is only 3%. Can you then guess what that rate was a half-century ago? It was as much as 30%. If Japan has done that, then there is no reason why Saudi Arabia cannot do the same. We want to help make it happen.

In the years ahead, Japan and the Middle East will make a leap beyond the dimension of trading oil and gas, and strengthen our economic and business ties across all sectors. That process will place our mutual relations on a significantly higher level and lead us into an era of expanded cooperation hitherto beyond imagination.

When you combine Japan’s industrial prowess with the vitality of a young and vibrant Middle East, a Middle East of promising growth, and a Middle East that aspires to achieving industrial advancement, how might that synergy materialize? The answer is that it will translate into enormous growth opportunities for both the Middle East and Japan.

In my country, I have launched a three-pronged package of stimulus measures designed to revive the Japanese economy. Those three prongs, or arrows as I call them, are monetary policies, fiscal policies, and economic growth strategies. I am now shooting them in one fell swoop, resolutely and swiftly, so that Japan could gain vitality afresh.

Economically vibrant again, Japan should be ready to work with Saudi Arabia toward finding solutions to the challenges it faces. Working with the Saudis in the Middle East, a resurgent Japan would bring over here its industrial experience, know-how, and technology, while creating jobs and, as the Kingdom’s running mate, jointly climbing up the value ladder.

Long gone are the days when bilateral relationships were defined by a one-way street with Saudi Arabia selling oil on one end and Japan buying oil on the other. Even within the domain of energy resources, Japan stands ready to transfer such technologies as renewables or nuclear power generation, which rank among the safest in the world.

Japan and the Middle East are partners that share the same interests and concerns. For Japan and the Middle East, the 21st Century will be one of coexistence and co-prosperity, or al-ta’í¦ish.

Collaboration, or al-ta’í¦un, with you is what my country is after. For many in my country, nothing is nobler than the perspiration of diligent labor. According to their belief, the sense of harmony and tolerance grows when you perspire working together, and upon which you share your sense of accomplishment.

This was exactly the reason why I was delighted to hear that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had requested that Japan send technical advisors to their governments and organizations, and not be concerned about the expenses involved. Let me make an announcement now that soon my country is going to launch with countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE what we call a “cost-sharing technical assistance” framework. This new approach will involve the deployment of highly experienced JICA specialists, with the associated costs to be defrayed by the host countries.

I believe that JICA’s engineers will be able to transfer their know-how as masters of their manufacturing crafts, and at the same time serve as “missionaries” capable of cultivating a spirit of cooperation, attitude of harmony, and tolerance among the people they are going to work with. Conversely, I also believe that those Japanese engineers, through their deep interactions with the local people, will gain first-hand knowledge about Saudi Arabia’s faith, love for others, acceptance, and Islam’s rich reservoir of tolerance. They will learn tremendously from your al-ta’í¦ish, al-ta’í¦un, and al-tasí¦muh, and return to Japan as missionaries able to convey your wisdom to the people in Japan.

This is why I want to increase our exchanges at the people-to-people and academic levels with the countries of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey. Over the next five years, my government will invite business trainees from the Middle East and send in return to the region Japanese instructors. The two-way exchanges should amount to 20,000 people.

We also plan to increase the number of Middle Eastern students studying in Japan. Over the past seven years, the number from Saudi Arabia has expanded from 30 to 500. From the UAE, around 60 students are currently in Japan, but that total, too, should be increased to 500. The number of female students among them, I am sure, will soar to something like several dozen.

One leap involves a transformation from our resource-centric relationship to the one marked by full-scale economic ties and a quest for coexistence and co-prosperity. The second leap comprises an evolution from purely economic ties to a relationship marked by cooperation in the quest for regional peace, stability, and growth. This process will give rise to a relationship of multifaceted synergy. In other words, ties traditionally defined by energy will be supplanted by ties of fully fledged synergy.



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