The purpose of Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s visit to Iran is to deepen the friendship between Tokyo and Tehran, which already exists, said a Japanese government official.
Accompanied by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Abe arrives in Iran on Wednesday to hold a number of meetings with top Iranian officials.
This visit comes at a very precious moment in the history of the two countries’ relations when they are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations, he added at press conference on Tuesday ahead of Abe’s Iran trip, answering to Iran Daily’s question.
He noted that Japan and Iran will deepen their friendship based on mutual interests and the long history of their friendship so far.
Elaborating on the schedule of the visit by the Japanese officials, he said, “On Wednesday, Kono will meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Following his arrival at Mehrabad Airport in the Iranian capital on Wednesday afternoon, Abe will attend a welcoming ceremony at Saadabad Palace. Next, he will meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, after which they will have a joint press announcement. Then, Abe will attend a dinner ceremony hosted by Mr. Rouhani.”
On Thursday, he said, Abe will be received by The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, following which he will leave Tehran in the afternoon.
He said this fall, Abe will become the longest serving prime minister of Japan, adding his political base is very strong.
“As of June 6, he has been serving as Japan’s prime minister for 2,720 days, making him already the third longest serving prime minister in the history of Japanese constitutional government. Backed by such a domestic support, Abe has been actively engaged in diplomacy. For him, as well as the Japanese diplomacy, 2019 is a very important year. For instance, this year Japan will host the G20 meeting in Osaka which will be held on June 28 and 29.”
At this meeting, Abe is expected to meet with US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and also Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said.
In terms of bilateral relations between Japan and Iran, this is a very special year for the two countries as it marks the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Tehran, he noted.
In February, he said, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani visited Japan and in May, Zarif met his Japanese counterpart and paid a courtesy call to Abe.
He stressed that Japan has been consistently supporting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015.
On Tehran’s importance to Tokyo he said, “Iran is a linchpin for the stability of the Middle East region which is crucially important for Japan’s energy security. It is one the great powers of the region and has been enjoying traditional friendship with Japan.”
Turning to the significance of Abe’s meetings with Iranian leaders in his visit to Tehran, he said under the circumstances that tension is tightening in the Middle East region, Japan works on Iran as a great power of the region to ease tension at every level, including the highest leadership.
Abe’s Tehran visit will be the first trip by a Japanese prime minister to Iran in 41 years, which will contribute to the further deepening of the two sides’ traditional friendly relationship.
He added the visit by two senior Japanese officials to Iran represents the country’s commitment to the peace and stability of the Middle East.
Resumption of oil imports
On whether the resumption of Japan’s oil imports from Iran will be discussed in Abe’s visit, he said the issue pertains to private Japanese companies as they are the ones purchasing crude.
In May 2018, Trump pulled the US out of the JCPOA and reimposed Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Iran in two phases. The White House constantly claims that part of the sanctions are aimed at reducing Iran’s oil exports to zero. Japanese refineries used to be among major customers of Iranian oil prior to the reinstatement of unilateral US sanctions.
Answering to a question whether Abe’s Iran visit is aimed at mediating between Tehran and Washington, he reiterated that this time, the main purpose of Abe’s trip to Tehran is to ease the tension in the region.
He added this is the prime minister’s own initiative.