With an Eye to Untapped Potential, Israel and Japan Work to Expand Ties

With an Eye to Untapped Potential, Israel and Japan Work to Expand Ties
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference, Jerusalem, Jan. 19, 2015 (AP photo by Tsafrir Abayov).

Earlier this month, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and visiting Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon signed an agreement that makes it easier for Japanese businesses to invest in Israeli cyber-technology firms. In an email interview, Emanuel Shahaf, CEO of Technology Asia Consulting, discusses Israel’s ties with Japan.

WPR: What are the main areas of cooperation between Japan and Israel, and how extensive are bilateral ties?

Emanuel Shahaf: Relations between Israel and Japan are developing in the wake of Israel’s pivot to Asia and, in particular, in response to the considerable development of relations between Israel and China. Israel’s relations with Japan had been hampered for years by Tokyo’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil and its reluctance to risk friction with the Arab states and Iran. But ties have slowly developed beyond trade, which now is worth close to $2.5 billion, one-third of which is Israeli exports to Japan.

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