Netanyahu, Japanese foreign minister tout strengthening ties

Netanyahu made no mention of Japan’s vote against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem at the UN, instead focusing on trade and technology ties.

By: TPS and World Israel News

Five days after Japan voted in favor of a UN resolution condemning 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 two 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 the fact that Japanese companies are coming to Israel expressed this unique partnership which has limitless potential,” Netanyahu said.

Kono, on his first visit to Israel as foreign minister but his fourth in general, 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 20 times in that time,” Kono said. “I think the bilateral relationship is going very well and we would like to continue this momentum.”

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.”

Direct flight connection on the agenda

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.

“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 your two countries,” Kono stated.

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.”

Japan is reportedly consulting with Israel for assistance with counter-terrorism efforts ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Kono, who took on the position of foreign minister in October, is reportedly on the same page as Trump on the issue of North Korea, whose policy is that pressure rather than dialogue is what is needed for the rogue state to abandon its nuclear program.