Japan and Saudi Arabia
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 :
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.