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Japan Volunteers to Mediate Mideast Conflicts
This June 19 photo shows the Japanese tanker that was damaged during an attack in the Gulf of Oman several days earlier during a visit to Iran by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Mumen Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan Volunteers to Mediate Mideast Conflicts

Japan wants to play a more prominent political role in the Middle East, including resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told the Saudi Arabia-based Arab News in an interview. “We can play an honest broker in the Middle East, as we have no colonial history or negative footprint in the region,” he said. Kono added that stability in the region was in his country’s national interest given the fact that its energy sector is heavily import-reliant, especially from the Gulf. “Forty percent of the crude oil we import comes from Saudi Arabia; 80% of the crude oil and 20% of the gas we import goes through the Strait of Hormuz,” he explained. Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese leader to visit Iran in over 40 years. During his visit, a Japanese-owned oil tanker was attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The West blamed Tehran, but Tokyo refrained from explicitly doing so. Additionally, Kono said Japan was interested in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if invited, would be “glad” to play the role of mediator.

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