Just days after supporting a resolution condemning the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Japan sent its foreign minister to meet with the Israeli prime minister in Jerusalem.
Five days after Japan voted in favor of a resolution calling to declare “null and void” US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, no mention of the city’s status was made when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted Japan’s foreign minister Taro Kono in Jerusalem on Monday.
At a press conference before their meeting, Netanyahu and Kono put the issue aside, focusing on trade and technology ties between the nations.
“The future belongs to those who innovate. Japan has tremendous capabilities in science, engineering and industry. Israel has developed unique capabilities in innovation in every field and I believe that the fact that Japanese companies are coming to Israel expresses this unique partnership which has limitless potential,” Netanyahu said.
Kono, on his first visit as foreign minister, but his fourth to the country, said bilateral ties were booming. “The number of Japanese companies operating in Israel has doubled in the past three years and Japanese investments have grown twenty-times in that time,” Kono said. “I think the bilateral relationship is going very well and we would like to continue this momentum,” he added.
Earlier in the day Kono held a working meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, who called on the Japanese Foreign Minister to convey to the Palestinians the importance of direct negotiations with Israel.
“I know the good relationship between your people, and the influence you have with the Palestinians,” Rivlin told Kono. “They have to understand that we are here, that the Jewish people has returned to our homeland and there is no other homeland for the Jewish people but the State of Israel, and the Land of Israel.”
On the issue of recognition of Jerusalem, Rivlin told Kono that just as “Tokyo is absolutely the only capital of Japan, Jerusalem is the capital of State of Israel”.
Kono for his part stressed the increase in trade and investment between the two countries in recent years, and said, “Investment has probably increased twenty-fold in the last three years, so the bilateral relationship is rapidly expanding.”
“Japan regards Israel as a country full of talent, not just a state about technology, but humanity, art, and science, and I hope to increase the exchange of people between our two countries,” Kono added.
Noting the significant strengthening of ties between the two countries, Kono said he hoped to see a direct flight connection in the near future. “The legal framework is there, and we are hoping that the airlines will view favorably having a direct connection,” he said.
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