Tehran-Tokyo Relations, Serving Interests of Both Nations

May 5, 2002 - 0:0
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, who arrived in Tehran on Friday evening for a three-day official visit, yesterday met with her Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi.

At the meeting, the two sides called for strengthening bilateral relations as well as cooperation in maintaining international security and stability.

In fact, Ms. Kawaguchi's visit to Tehran has been called a new step toward the expansion of relations and cooperation between Tehran and Tokyo, especially in the economic area. However, other regional and international factors besides economic motives also influence relations between the two countries. For instance, Japanese officials attach great significance to Iran's key role in maintaining regional security and stability and fighting terrorism as well as its participation in Afghanistan's reconstruction.

Nevertheless, Japan's attitude towards the Islamic Republic during the past two decades has, to some extent, been affected by Washington's policy on Iran, and this influence acted rather as an impediment to the full expansion of economic ties between Tehran and Tokyo in the above period. As a result, economic activities such as joint investments or technology transfer were not given due emphasis.

Fortunately, President Mohammad Khatami's visit to Japan in November 2000, proved to be a landmark in relations between the two countries and gave fresh impetus to their mutual cooperation. Nonetheless, Japan's eagerness to promote its cooperation with Iran also has roots in its own foreign policy. In other words, considering the new world situation following the September 11 incidents in the United States, Tokyo has now adopted a more active policy towards regional and international developments, improving its relations with other countries.

It seems that Japanese officials have come to the conclusion that the emergence of a new political situation in the world with increasing U.S. threats has ushered in a global economic recession, thus posing a serious threat to Japan's economy. They also believe that the continuation of U.S. threats is quite likely to deny Japan access to badly needed energy resources as well as to markets for the sale of its various products.

According to official statistics released by Japan's Ministry of Economy on April 30, the country imported nearly 88 percent of its oil from countries in the Persian Gulf region in 2001. This is why Tokyo considers the preservation of stability, peace and security in the Middle East vital to its national interests. At the same time, as mentioned earlier, Japanese officials attach great significance to Iran's role in maintaining regional stability and security and are eager to consolidate their ties with the Islamic Republic.

Against this backdrop, Ms. Kawaguchi's visit to Tehran has provided a favorable opportunity for officials of the two countries to try to upgrade their bilateral relations and cooperation in both the political and economic spheres in order to further the interests of both nations.