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2013年8月27日 (火)

首相中東訪問 資源確保へ戦略的協力深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 27, 2013
Deepen strategic ties with nations of GCC to ensure energy security
首相中東訪問 資源確保へ戦略的協力深めよ(8月26日付・読売社説)

To ensure stable supplies of energy resources to this country, it is crucial to deepen strategic cooperation with the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Bahrain, the chair of the GCC, and had talks with Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

The two leaders agreed to hold strategic ministerial dialogues between Japan and the GCC, while setting up a framework for working-level security talks. Signs are that the strategic dialogues may begin as early as September.

The GCC, a regional organization comprising six Middle East nations facing the Persian Gulf, groups Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.

Abe, who visited Saudi Arabia and the UAE in spring this year, will also visit Qatar and Kuwait on the current trip.

Japan depends on GCC members for more than 70 percent of its annual crude oil imports amid the country’s stringent energy supply-demand situation caused by delays in the resumption of nuclear power plant operations after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake.

The Persian Gulf’s maritime shipping lanes for transporting crude oil and other resources are vitally important to the Japanese economy. Continual consultations must be held on such issues as securing the sea lanes and preparing antipiracy countermeasures as part of the strategic Japan-GCC dialogues.

In January, Japanese nationals were taken hostage in Algeria. As part of the Japan-GCC dialogues, information about terrorist activities by extremists in the Middle East and Africa must be shared.

Conducive to ME peace

As chances of having summit talks with China and South Korea in the near future appear slim, Abe has focused his diplomatic efforts on the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Expediting efforts to strengthen ties with these regions’ mid-level countries will most likely earn Japan a precious diplomatic asset from the mid- and long-term points of view.

In the Mideast, the situations in Egypt and Syria have been deteriorating alarmingly amid discussions on the problems of Iran’s nuclear development programs and Middle East peace negotiations. Building up strategic relations between Japan and the GCC nations may indirectly help stabilize the Middle East as a whole.

In Saturday’s talks, Japan and Bahrain agreed to resume talks on a Japan-GCC free trade agreement and expand cooperation in such fields as agriculture, railways and medical services.

In the current tour of Middle East countries, Abe is accompanied by an economic mission comprising about 50 people, who represent mostly private-sector businesses. This is because a number of large-scale infrastructure development projects have been planned in the GCC countries, including some in Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament.

Economic cooperation between the two sides should be encouraged in a way reciprocally beneficial to Japan and the GCC.

The prime minister will visit Djibouti on Tuesday to encourage Maritime Self-Defense Force members engaged in antipiracy activities in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. The MSDF has been enhancing its presence in the region by dispatching destroyers and P-3C surveillance aircraft.

Abe’s words of encouragement will be sure to help improve the morale of the MSDF personnel. The prime minister has often expressed his appreciation of the roles of the Self-Defense Forces, frequently visiting SDF troops in various places. We hope the prime minister will continue this practice.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2013)
(2013年8月26日01時17分  読売新聞)


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