Israeli-Japanese Relations on the Rise
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo in May 2014. (GPO)

Israeli-Japanese Relations on the Rise

Ma’ariv, Israel, September 19

The relationship between Israel and Japan has recently flourished in an unprecedented way, following growing political and economic cooperation between the two nations in the fields of innovation, trade, health and tourism. The turning point in the relationship took place in 2014, with the visit of Toshimitsu Motegi, who then served as the Japanese Minister of Economy. In the same year, the Japanese invested about $200 million in the Israeli economy. Today, total Japanese investment is no less than $11 billion. The good relations that have been established in recent years between former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also have had an important role in tightening the countries’ relations. Over 90 Japanese companies have opened offices in Israel recently. About three weeks ago I participated in the opening ceremony of the innovation laboratory of the Japanese telecom giant NTT in Israel, which aims to identify and acquire technologies in Israel for the benefit of dozens of companies belonging to the corporation. For me, it is a national mission to bring in more Japanese investments and deals with Japanese companies and entities into Israel. A closer connection with the Japanese economy means more jobs in Israel. And Israel has quite a bit to offer in the realms of cybersecurity, health care, science and more. Further, inbound tourism from Japan can also be an asset to the Israeli economy. It could lead to the launch of additional nonstop flights between Tel Aviv and Tokyo, which will generate quite a bit of foreign currency for the state coffers. Motegi’s visit to Israel last month, currently in his role as Japanese foreign minister, was very warm and amiable. The good atmosphere characterized not only the meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett but also those with top Israeli officials like President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Minister Motegi visited the Western Wall and Yad Vashem, where he planted a tree in honor of the Japanese Righteous Among the Nations, diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who saved thousands of Jews in Lithuania during the Holocaust. Next year, Israel and Japan will celebrate 70 years of relations between them. This will be a celebration of two ancient histories with glorious legacies, commemorating a young relationship. Japan presents amazing opportunities for us, and Israel, which shares the same values of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law, can surely become an asset for Japan. – Gilad Cohen (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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