Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono Gets Royal Treatment in Saudi Arabia

Monday, April 29, 2019

King Salman Meets Kono

By Khaldon Azhari

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono met leaders of Saudi Arabia in a weekend visit to Riyadh which reflected the importance of Japan to the country.

King Salam and Crown Prince Mohamed received Kono separately and confirmed good bilateral relations and cooperation. The Saudi minister of the interior, Prince Abdul Aziz, attended the meeting with the king, along with the Saudi Minister of State Dr. Musaed al Eiban and Kono's counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim al Assaf.

Crown Prince Mohammed meets
Kono, Uemura and Oka

Also in attendance were the Saudi ambassador to Japan, Nayef Al Fehadi, and Japan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Tsukasa Uemura.
Hiroshi Oka, the director general of the Middle East Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, accompanied Kono during the visit.

Kono also met State Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel al Jubeir during the visit, diplomatic sources told PanOrient News.

The visit highlighted the cooperation between the two countries as they work toward a successful hosting of a G20 Summit in Osaka this year, and in Saudi Arabia next year.

Al Rikabi, right, Al Jubair
welcomes Kono

The diplomatic source said Kono emphasized Japanese support for Saudi reforms and Japan's determination to support the “Japan Saudi Vision 2030.”

Japanese officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that during the meetings, Kono didn't raise the politically sensitive issue of the Saudi journalist, Khashoggi, who was killed in Istanbul at the Saudi consulate, although he expressed trust in the Saudi jurisdictional system in dealing with the matter transparently and disclosing facts.

Kono expressed support for Saudi reforms to diversify the economy away from dependence on exporting oil. Saudi oil amounted to over 40% of Japan's crude imports in March 2019, making it the top provider to Japan.

MOFA Spokswoman Shino
talks to Saudi Media

Iranian oil amounted to 9.1% in the same month, but Japanese oil companies decided to stop importing oil from Iran due to the American sanctions against Tehran.

Kono didn't discuss increasing Saudi oil imports to Japan, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told PanOrient News, noting that companies, rather than the government, decide the source of oil imports.

On Iran, the Saudi newspaper, Al Riyadh, quoted the Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Ms. Mitsuko Shino as saying at a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday that Japan understands the position of Saudi Arabia on Iran and can take a positive role in this regard.

Kono discussed the situation in Yemen, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Middle East peace while meeting with his Saudi counterpart, stressing the importance of Saudi Arabia in maintaining regional peace and stability.

During his trip, Kono also visited the Unicharm Gulf Hygienic Industries Ltd., a local factory where 90 Saudi women work and whose products are exported to over 20 countries. It is based on localized superior Japanese technology for producing baby care, feminine care and adult care hygiene products that have been widely trusted by Saudi consumers. He also visited the Kingdom Tower overseeing the city.

Shino reportedly said Japan welcomes expanding the transfer of industrial and technological expertise to Saudi businesses in these fields and the financial sector.

PanOrient News

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