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Japan-Saudi Arabia Relations

Japan-Saudi 50years

50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Saudi Arabia

The year of 2005 cerebrates the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Saudi Arabia. During this half century, the two countries have witnessed the deepening of political, economic and cultural relations in various forms. In 2003 both governments agreed to celebrate the year 2005 in order to further promote their friendship through commemorative projects in Japan and the Kingdom. In the Kingdom, we are planning to hold various events in cooperation with Japan Foundation, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and JETRO (Japan Export and Trade Organization) etc. with the support from the Saudi government and organizations.

1. Seminar on Higher Education (29th January)

On 29th January, a seminar on higher education system in Japan was held at the seminar room of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Riyadh. The lecturer was Dr. Jun Oba, Assistant Professor of Hiroshima University, Japan. Dozens of Saudi government officials and intellectuals attended the seminar and listened closely to the talk on the development of higher education systems after World War II in Japan.

2. Ikebana (Japanese Flower Arrangement) Demonstrations (16th March)

On 16th March, Ikebana Demonstration was held by the Embassy of Japan and Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women at Al-Nahda's auditorium, Riyadh. Following the speeches made by Mrs. Chieko Saito, wife of Ambassador of Japan, and HRH Princess Moudy bint Khalid, Ms. Hoki Hara, a Japanese expert from Ohara School, gracefully demonstrated 10 pieces of work of flower arrangement. More than 200 Saudi ladies including princesses and businesswomen fully enjoyed the authentic art of Ikebana.

3. Horserace "Japan Cup" (1st April)

On 1st April, a horserace "Japan Cup" was held by the Equestrian Club of Riyadh at King Abdulaziz Horserace Course near Riyadh. Following the creation of the Saudi Arabian Royal Cup in Japan in1999, the Equestrian Club of Riyadh and Japan Racing Association have been reciprocating annual horserace cups since 2002. This year's race was held also as part of commemoration for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Saudi Arabia. More than 150 visitors including Saudis, Japanese and diplomats enjoyed watching the race. The cup was awarded by HE Mr. Katsuyuki Kawai, Parliamentary Secretary (Assistant Minister) for Foreign Affairs of Japan.

4. Japanese Prints 1950-1990 Exhibition (16th - 26th April)

On 16th April, an opening reception of the Japanese Prints 1950-1990 Exhibition was held by the Embassy of Japan and the Deputy Ministry of Antiquities & Museums at National Museum, Riyadh. The exhibition consisted of 70 pieces of contemporary print in various styles, such as traditional woodblock, etching and silkscreen, created by 46 Japanese artists including world famous Mr. Shiko Munakata, Mr. Masuo Ikeda and Mr. Tadanori Yokoo. The reception was inaugurated by HH Prince Abdulaziz Al-Moqrin, Mayor of Riyadh City, and HE Mr. Yasuo Saito, Ambassador of Japan. More than 200 people, including Saudi artists and diplomats, attended the reception to appreciate the high-quality art.

5. National Karate Tournament for Youth Welfare Presidency Cup 2005

On 18th and 19th May, National Karate Tournament for Youth Welfare Presidency Cup 2005 was held by the Embassy of Japan and the Saudi Arabia Karate Federation at Al-Hilal Sports Club, Riyadh. During the tournament, the four Japanese Karate experts headed by Mr. Hideo Yamamoto, Shoto-kan school (5th grade) and the coach for Japan’s National Team, made authentic Karate performances including each school’s Kata and Kumite as well as wood-chopping.

More than 400 Saudis came to enjoy high-level competitions, participated in by over 300 players, as well as high-standard performances by the Japanese experts.

The experts also gave a session of training and instruction to Saudi Karate coaches and players on 17th May.

Commemorative Projects

January : Seminar on Higher Education at King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies (Riyadh)
March : Ikebana “Japanese Flower Arrangement” Demonstration at Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society (Riyadh)
April : A Horse Race “Japan Cup” by the Equestrian Club (Riyadh)
Exhibition “Japanese Prints 1950-1990” at National Museum
May : National Karate Tournament (Riyadh, Jeddah, Damman, Abha)
Japanese Speech Contest (Riyadh)
November  : Japan Industrial Exhibition (Riyadh)
Japanese Speech Contest (Riyadh)
December  : Japan-Saudi Youth Exchange Program

In addition, we are working to realize a Japanese Cultural Mission's visit to Saudi Arabia and Japanese Drum Performances.

Japan and Saudi Arabia : History and Now

In September 1953, the Japanese government proposed establishing diplomatic relations to Saudi Arabia. In June 1955, the Saudi government replied to Japan through its embassy in Egypt, notifying its agreement to Japan’s proposal. This official correspondence is regarded as the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The embassy of Saudi Arabia was opened in 1958 in Tokyo, while the embassy of Japan was opened in 1960 in Jeddah and moved to Riyadh in 1984.

The relations between the two countries have been strengthened through mutual visits by imperial/royal family members. In 1981 Their Imperial Highnesses the then Crown Prince of Japan Akihito and the then Crown Princess Michiko (Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress at present) visited Saudi Arabia, and in 1994 Their Imperial Highnesses the current Crown Prince Naruhito and the Crown Princess Masako also visited the country. From Saudi Arabia, in 1960 His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (Second Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General at present) became the first royal family member to visit Japan. His Majesty King Faisal Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (1971), His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, the governor of Riyadh Region (1998), and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (1998) also made a visit to Japan.

The two governments have agreed on the following initiatives :

  1. “Comprehensive Partnership toward the Twenty-First Century” and “Japan-Saudi Arabia Cooperation Agenda”
    The then Prime Minister Hashimoto called for comprehensive bilateral relations based on the Political, Economic and New Areas of Cooperation (in the fields of (1)human resources development, (2)environment, (3)health, science and technology, (4)culture and sports and (5)investment and joint venture) when he visited the Kingdom in 1997. In 1998 Crown Prince Abdullah and the then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi witnessed the signing of “Japan-Saudi Arabia Cooperation Agenda”, an indicator to put the “Comprehensive Partnership” concept into concrete actions.
  2. “The Kono Initiative”
    “The Kono Initiative” was announced when the then Foreign Minister Yohei Kono visited the Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia in 2001. He declared Japan’s intention to strengthen the relations with the region through (1) promoting dialogues with the Islamic World, (2)developing water resources and (3)engaging in diverse political dialogues. Japan’s dialogues with the Islamic World have been taking place annually since then.
  3. “The Japan-Arab Dialogue Forum”
    In 2003 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi proposed establishing the Japan-Arab Dialogue Forum among Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Japan when he visited the Kingdom. The first meeting was held in Tokyo in 2003, followed by the second meeting in Egypt in 2004 and the third meeting in Riyadh in 2005. The fourth meeting is expected to be held in Tokyo later this year.

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