Middle East Review of International Affairs

Vol. 4 No. 4/December 2000


Japan And The Middle East: Signs Of Change?
by Alan Dowty *


Editor's Summary

Japan is dependent on Middle East oil and is one of the world's strongest economies. Yet its political involvement in the Middle East has been quite limited. There are signs though that Japan is becoming more active in the region. This article traces the history of Japan's economic and political role in the region, including the effect of Japanese perceptions and the effects on this policy of the close U.S.-Japan relationship



There has been a vast disparity between Japan's heavy dependence on the Middle East and the low level of its involvement in that region. This situation has prevailed despite the fact that, apart from its own East Asian neighborhood and arguably its ties with the United States--no other region has such an obvious impact on the well-being, prosperity, and even basic security of Japan. There are signs, though, that Japan's historic policy toward the region is now changing.

As the world's single largest oil importer, Japan is the "pivotal customer" in a Middle East-dominated world oil market. Indeed, the shift to an oil-based economy is credited by many as literally, fueling the Japanese economic miracle of the last half-century. 1 In comparison to the United States and most other Western countries, Japan "remains extraordinarily susceptible to serious disruptions in supply or increase in the price of raw materials." 2 Following the shock of the 1973 oil crisis, Japan managed by 1986 to reduce its dependence on oil for primary energy from 77.4 percent to 56.6 percent. In the period since then, however, its dependence has remained at the same level (for example, at 56.1 percent in 1995).

Furthermore, the percentage of this imported oil that comes from the volatile Middle East has hardly changed since the first oil crisis: 77.5 percent in 1973 and 77.2 percent in 1994. The bottom line is that while the United States depended on Middle Eastern oil for only 4.7 percent of its primary energy needs in 1996, the figure for Japan was 41.4 percent. 3 As a result, the Middle East is the one area of the world with which Japan runs a chronic and severe negative trade balance. In short, "Japan has more to gain from peace and stability in the [Middle East] region than any other industrial country." 4

Yet the level of Japanese involvement in the Middle East has not reflected this vulnerability. Of course Japan's renunciation of military force or arms sales in its foreign policy poses a serious constraint in an area of the world where the use of force has been all too frequent and arms sales have been a primary instrument of influence. But Japan has also been a marginal player in the political and diplomatic arenas.

Only in the 1990s, with the development of multilateral channels linked to the Arab-Israeli peace process, has Japan assumed a formal role in negotiations designed to ensure regional stability. The record is so thin that in many accounts of Japanese diplomacy in the Middle East the list of official visits back and forth provides much or most of the content. 5 Even in economic statecraft, Japan's level of activity has lagged well behind what might be predicted from a reading of its economic stake in the area.

Foreign developmental assistance has become Japan's primary instrument of statecraft. Yet foreign aid to the Middle East, after peaking at 24.5 percent of Japan's total overseas developmental assistance budget in 1977, declined to around 10 percent in the 1980s and to 6.8 percent in 1995--putting the Middle East behind Africa and Latin America in Japan's foreign aid priorities. 6 To this must be added Japan's low level of investment in the Middle East, relative to the objective importance of the area and levels of investment elsewhere, despite a concerted effort after the 1970s oil scares to increase the Japanese economic presence in the area. 7

Even the level of public and scholarly interest falls short of what objective interests would seem to dictate. While a Middle East Institute was founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1956, the Japanese Association of Middle East Studies and its publication Annals appeared only in 1985. The first book on Japanese foreign policy toward the Middle East, written by a Japanese-American political scientist, was published only in 1984. 8

What accounts for this glaring disproportion between the importance of the Middle East to Japan and what appears, at least at first glance, to be the modest attention accorded to the area in both policy and scholarly interest? Obviously the lack of any background of historic ties or interest in the Middle East in the pre-oil period is a factor, though it has been pointed out that already in the 1930s Japan's prominence in the Middle East textile market gave some expression to the reality of objective interests that were beginning to emerge. 9 Also, there are in Japan no domestic pressure groups like those in Western nations that serve to intensify public debate on Middle East issues and raise their visibility.

In addition, the tendency to frame foreign policy questions in terms of economic interests leads to underestimatng the challenges of relations with the Middle East, an area where critical economic issues cannot be separated so easily from deeper social, political, and strategic questions. A former Japanese diplomat recounts that during the Iran hostage crisis a Japanese businessman asked bitterly: "Why is it that we who have had nothing to do with the causes of the Iranian Revolution, nothing to do historically with the Arab-Israel conflict, and nothing to do with American interests in Iran, have to suffer this?"This tendency to abstract economic relations from their context was, the diplomat notes, "quite natural for the Japanese of that time." 10

One must also consider the general features of Japan's approach to the world and the distinctively Japanese style in foreign policy. Both Japanese and non-Japanese scholars comment often on a certain insularity in Japanese culture and on the closed nature of Japanese society; without attempting to probe this subject in depth here, it is still possible to observe that the attention paid to most areas of the world, beyond the immediate East Asian neighborhood, has been relatively sparse until recent years. 11 The legacy of World War Two and an anti-military constitution further encouraged a style of foreign policy that was reticent and reactive rather than assertive, often being expressed in the lowest-common-denominator language of simple opposition to the use of force and promotion of diplomatic solutions to conflicts. 12 Also, as Yasumasa Kuroda points out, "Japanese approach the world in a syncretic way," seeking conciliation rather than confrontation with all parties and trying to avoid offense to any of them; it is therefore instinctive to avoid taking sides in distant regional conflicts even when the tactical advantages of an active diplomacy push in that direction. 13

Most or all of these factors may be relevant, but clearly no explanation of Japanese policy, in the Middle East or elsewhere, is complete without reference to the central U.S.-Japanese relationship. Ties with the United States appear to be the most important key to understanding both past Japanese passivity in the Middle East and recent changes in this stance. For Japan, the U.S. alliance imposes serious constraints on independent action in the Middle East, but at the same time it provides Japan with the luxury of foregoing such action.

The basic interests of Japan and the United States in the Middle East are, for the most part, overlapping. These common interests are, in the words of a former Japanese Ambassador to the United States, "to ease the political volatility in the region, achieve political stability, maintain oil supplies to Western countries, and promote economic development in the region." 14 Apart from the general interest that Japan has, therefore, in avoiding unnecessary disruptions in its overall relationship with the United States, it also has limited grounds for differing with the basic thrust of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The general closeness of U.S.-Japanese coordination in the region is sometimes overlooked in the occasional contretemps over minor differences. In December 1988, for example, Japanese Foreign Minister Sohsuke Uno held his first official meeting with a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representative less than eight hours after the United States had announced its decision to open a dialogue with the PLO. It has also been noted that during the 1980s, when Japan was in theory following a declaratory policy somewhat more sympathetic to the Arab side of conflict than that of the United States, its voting record on Arab-Israeli issues in the United Nations actually moved closer to the U.S. position--apparently in order to offset some of the friction that arose during this period over trade issues. 15

Since the United States has taken the lead in maintaining overall stability and security in the Middle East, Japan is freer, than would otherwise be the case, to pursue more specific interests of its own or to simply sit on the sidelines. As dependent as Japan may be on a flow of oil from the region, it knows that the United States is committed to the same goal and is willing, as in the Gulf War, to bring its power to bear for that end. The "luxury" that Japan enjoys, therefore, is one of incurring relatively low costs for the maintenance of Middle East stability by letting the United States indulge its propensity to run the entire show. This has, of course, led some observers to characterize Japan as a "free rider" on Middle East security: a nation enjoying the benefits of stability in the area while contributing relatively little to the costs. There is sometimes a general feeling in the United States that "her allies have parochial perspectives and are willing to take a security 'free ride' but unwilling to associate with their major ally beyond their immediate interests." 16

As this indicates, there remain real differences in the interests and perspectives of the two parties, despite a general congruence. Japan's interest in the Middle East is much more narrowly focused and Japan's ability to apply pressure or coercion is much more limited. The United States, as a superpower, enjoys latitude to pursue a variety of policies that may displease or antagonize regional actors, and can exert its influence through a variety of instruments. 17 Consequently there will be a natural tendency for Japan, at least during certain difficult passages, to seek a measure of dissociation from U.S. policy and to pursue its own priorities through separate bilateral arrangements with states willing to strike deals. The constant dilemma of Japanese policy, therefore, is how to differentiate itself from the United States in certain specific instances while still remaining within, and contributing to, the overall security umbrella maintained principally by the United States.


The Oil Shocks

One can detect, therefore, three layers in Japanese Middle Eastern policy: First, there is the "lowest-common-denominator" positions favoring peace and neutrality that accord with Japan's perception of itself in the world and its role as a member of the United Nations. Second, Japan identifies with the U.S.-led effort to maintain Middle East stability, in view of Japan's enormous dependence on an uninterrupted flow of oil. Finally, there are occasional efforts to stake out an independent Japanese role, at least in specific instances where an overly close identification with U.S. policy seems to put Japanese interests at risk. This third category of policy responses can be subdivided into short-term measures designed to meet an immediate interest or need, or long-term policies in which Japan makes its own, distinctive, contribution to Middle Eastern stability and development.

The interplay of these three threads can be seen in a quick review of the more difficult passages in Japanese Middle Eastern policy and U.S.-Japanese relations over the Middle East. Prior to 1973 little thought was given anywhere to the likelihood of a disruption in Middle Eastern oil supplies; consequently the production cutbacks announced by Arab oil-producing states, together with the declared embargo on any oil sales to the United States and the Netherlands, caught all consuming nations by surprise. But the shock in Japan was perhaps greatest. As the nation most dependent on Middle Eastern oil, Japan found itself singled out for special pressure to take a more pro-Arab position in order to achieve classification as a "friendly" nation entitled to an uninterrupted flow of oil. The Japanese cabinet obliged by issuing a statement of Japan's already stated "lowest-common-denominator" position: opposition to the acquisition of territory by force, a consequent demand for withdrawal of Israeli forces from all territories occupied in 1967, and support for the "legitimate rights" of the Palestinians. When this failed to satisfy the boycotting nations, a second statement issued on November 22 added a promise to contribute to a peace based on these principles, deplored "Israel's continuing occupation of Arab territories," and threatened to "reconsider its policy toward Israel" in light of future developments. 18

At the time Japan's move was heralded as the first serious crack in the U.S.-Japanese alliance, leading some Japanese observers to argue that this alliance applied only to East Asia. It is doubtful that alliances can be so compartmentalized geographically, but in any event the size and importance of the split can easily be exaggerated. Responding to U.S. pressure, and perhaps also to the threat of a Jewish counter-boycott of Japanese goods in the U.S. market, Japan declined to take further steps demanded by Arab governments such as cutting diplomatic ties with Israel. In addition, as has been repeatedly pointed out, the Japanese declaration was little more than a stylistic verbal change in existing Japanese policy, and made little or no difference on the ground. 19

Moreover, in the end the gesture brought little or no benefit to Japan. While the November 22 declaration did lead to Japan's reclassification as a "friendly" nation in Arab eyes, the impact of the oil crisis was not lessened. Since oil is a fungible commodity, embargoes directed at specific states resulted only in shifts in normal marketing and shipping patterns; those nations able to afford it could still find oil. The real impact of the 1973 crisis was on the price of oil, which was quadrupled by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and not by Arab oil-producers alone, against the background of a shortfall--or to be more accurate, a perceived shortfall--in overall world oil production. The impact on different nations was a function of their dependence on imported oil, and not of their declared sympathies in the Arab-Israel conflict. Thus, Japan was still among those hit the hardest. 20

This episode taught the lesson that independent short-term Japanese policies, designed to curry favor with oil-producing states, might well gain nothing while still exacting a cost in relations with the United States. On the other hand, the fall of the shah of Iran in early 1979 was a clear reminder that total reliance on U.S. policy might not be the ticket either. Following the American lead, Japan had developed extensive and intimate economic ties with the Shah's regime, culminating in massive investment in a petrochemical complex at Bandar Shahpur (later renamed Bandar Khomeini). The unexpected fall of the Iranian government left Japanese investors in an awkward position; although the new regime wanted to complete the complex, it soon became a target in the Iran-Iraq War, and in the end Japan was forced to negotiate a costly withdrawal from its contractual obligations.

Thus in the second oil crisis, ignited by the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War, Japan was again largely an observer despite the obvious threat to Japanese well-being. But this time there were some glimmers of an independent diplomatic role: as the only major power able to talk to both sides, Japan was active in efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In August 1983, Japanese Foreign Minister Shintaroh Abe traveled to Teheran and Baghdad on a peace mission. In 1988, Japan was active in UN negotiations that produced Resolution 598 ending the conflict. At the same time, the war produced frictions with the United States over such issues as continued Japanese economic relations with Iran and requests for help from Japan in ensuring the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war--including attacks on tankers--of the mid-1980s. As the nation most dependent on the tanker traffic being protected, Japan was expected by the United States to play a more active role despite its non-military policy. In the end, Japan supplied navigational radar equipment in the Gulf to aid in the operation.

By the mid-1980s, Japan had made progress in reducing its dependence on oil as a part of its overall energy needs, as noted above. This, and other measures such as building an oil stockpile, made the nation somewhat less vulnerable to interruptions in supply. Then came the collapse of oil prices in 1985-1986, when Saudi Arabia tired of its role as the "swing producer" who cut production in order to maintain the price level. This was a great boon to all oil-consuming states; the value of Japan's imports from the Middle East as a part of all imports fell from 28.6 percent in 1982 to 10.9 percent in 1989. 21 The value of imported oil compared to Japan's Gross National Product fell from nearly 5 percent in 1980 to about 1 percent a decade later. 22

Japan's internal energy policy was therefore a partial success. However, since the value of Japan's exports to the Middle East also dropped, since the oil producers were buying less, the overall trade deficit remained very negative. 23 More important was the failure to diversify sources of oil supply; the Middle East remained as crucial as ever. Also, after the mid-1980s Japan did not stem the growth in demand for oil, so there was no further reduction in overall dependence. 24

On the whole, though, Japan was much better prepared for the challenge of the 1990-1991 Gulf War than it had been for the earlier oil crises, and the impact was considerably milder. At the same time, Japanese policy was much more engaged in the process of trying to restore stability to the region. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was an abrupt reminder of the continued volatility of the Middle East and of Japan's continued vulnerability to events there.

Saddam Hussein's biggest misjudgment was precisely in not understanding just how important the Gulf had become to the world economy and thus how vociferous the reaction of the world community was likely to be. 25 Japan was a prime example of this; in addition to the threat to the flow of oil and to low oil prices (which rose sharply after Iraq's action), there were Japanese citizens among the hostages that Iraq seized in the first stage of the crisis. As one Japanese official put it, "no matter how this crisis turns out, it is a major turning point for Japan. We are going to be participants, not bystanders, from now on." 26 There was some embarrassment about Japan's inability to become a full-fledged member of the international coalition opposing Iraq: "The Persian Gulf Crisis of 1990-1991 invoked doubts about Japan's 'checkbook diplomacy' and 'one-country pacifism'." 27 Following the war, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, obviously feeling the international pressure for a more meaningful Japanese role in the Middle East, published a document listing in detail all the contributions Japan had made or was planning to make. 28

The "checkbook diplomacy" of the Gulf Crisis was not trivial; Japan gave $2.5 billion to the front-line nations of Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Syria, and $11 billion to the coalition. The military action against Iraq brought about a rapid fall in oil prices that had been inflated by the pre-war crisis, providing a strong justification for Japan, as a major beneficiary of the price drop, to make a substantial contribution. But Japan also provided transport aircraft and minesweepers to the war effort, marking the first departure from tradition in this area. 29

During the same period Japan's relations with Israel were undergoing a fundamental change. These relations have always been a function of Japan's relationships with the Arab world and with the United States. In order to maintain access to the Arab world, Japanese companies had not challenged the boycott of Israel. The pro-Arab declarations during the 1973 oil crisis have already been detailed. On the other hand, Japan maintained normal, if low-level, relations with Israel and generally followed the U.S. lead on Arab-Israeli diplomacy. One exception being when PLO leader Yasir Arafat was invited on an "unofficial" visit to Tokyo in 1981, when pressure from the second oil crisis was still strong.

By the late 1980s, given the glut of oil on the world market and the drop in exports to the Middle East, Japan, without changing its basic position on Arab-Israel issues, moved to normalize relations with Israel. The first visit of a Japanese foreign minister, Sosuke Uno, to Israel took place in 1988, and the first visit of a Japanese prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, finally occurred in 1995. An important turning point came in April 1991, following the Gulf War, when Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu denounced the Arab boycott as an impediment to free trade. Not coincidentally, major Japanese companies began to enter the Israeli market shortly thereafter. The process gathered momentum after the breakthrough in Israeli-PLO relations in September 1993. Not only were political obstacles removed, but it became clear that the Arab-Israeli peace process was a development highly favorable to Japanese interests, since it promised to open up a large new economic space with no barriers and many new opportunities. By this time, also, Israel had become Japan's "emerging market" in the Middle East, second only to Saudi Arabia, and a number of joint Israeli-Japanese ventures were underway. 30

During the 1990s Japan also began to play a more tangible role in Arab-Israeli diplomacy. Following the Madrid conference of 1991, Japan chaired the multilateral regional Environmental Working Group, and participated in the Working Groups on Water Resources, Regional Economic Development, and Refugees. Japan also sent 77 election observers to help oversee the election of the new Palestinian National Council, in January 1966 and the following month created another important new precedent by dispatching a small contingent of 45 soldiers to serve in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights-the first Japanese peacekeeping force outside of Asia.

From Economics to Security

As this brief history shows, Japan's policy in the Middle East has moved from vague support of peace and concern about specific economic interests, to a greater focus on long-term stability, whether in coordination with the United States or independently. There has been recognition that economic issues cannot be dealt with in isolation from social and political factors, and that reliance on market forces alone is not a viable policy. 31 In other words, Japan needs to view Middle Eastern stability as a security issue; in the words of former Prime Minister Takeo Miki, "peace in the Middle East . . . must be achieved . . . [for] the region is more than an energy problem. It is a political, strategic, and economic problem." 32 This is part of a larger process in which Japan has been overcoming a narrow conception of "self-defense" made possible by the American security umbrella. 33

The emerging policy focuses on the long term, recognizing that short-term policies, in which outside nations each scramble for its own perceived immediate interests, have been ineffective and even self-defeating. The problem for oil-consuming nations is their dependence on an unstable region of the world, not whether they are perceived as friendly or unfriendly toward particular nations. Consequently, efforts to earn favor by pandering to these nations will not work. As one analyst observed, in 1973

Few people in Washington or Tokyo really understood how the oil market worked. In fact, regardless of orientation toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, all countries faced higher oil prices. . . .A better understanding of the oil issue has led to the realization that Middle East peace and stability are a good foundation for the smooth working of the oil market in the region. The problem lies in how to promote that stability. 34

When Japan seems to be concerned only with its own specific short-term interests, it may in fact be inviting more pressure and attempts at manipulation. In 1973 Japan was pressured much more than European states that were also highly dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Following the 1973 crisis Japan alone, and not the European states, was subjected to strong, continuing pressure to recognize the PLO. 35

A policy for promoting regional stability is clearly not the same as a policy of currying favor with all, or most, of that region's states. There are many conflicts that divide Middle Eastern states from each other, apart from the Arab-Israeli conflict. There are many sources of instability in the region, few of which have simple answers. For example, some observers believe that the threat now emerging as the greatest challenge in the Middle East is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and that this is an area in which the United States, Japan, and all other outside powers should be cooperating closely and taking a much more active initiative. 36 Others point out that the problems threatening Middle Eastern stability--and by extension the flow of oil--are increasingly problems of internal instability rather than interstate conflicts, and that this requires concerted long-term policies centered around democratization and development (areas in which Japan can make a larger contribution). 37

In addition, shifting patterns of oil supply make it even more inevitable that Japan's role in the Middle East will expand. With the rise of East Asian economies, more Middle East oil is now flowing eastward, while the United States is coming to depend more on Western hemisphere sources. According to some projections, the proportion of Gulf oil going to Asia will increase in the next few years from about 40 percent to 60 percent. 38 This must be added onto the already existing concerns about a "third" world oil crisis--given current trends in production and consumption--that would again return OPEC to a dominant position in the world oil market. In such a situation the competition between Japan and other rising Asian economies for Middle Eastern oil would be intense, given the likelihood that both Indonesia and China will become net oil importers in the near future. 39 By one projection, the dependence of Japan on Middle Eastern oil may reach 92 percent in the near future. 40

In this light, it may indeed be true that "Japan's future role in the Middle East is as big as it chooses to make it." 41 Clearly there will be increasing pressure for "burden-sharing" from the United States and other Western nations, in any event. Logically this should be accompanied by increased willingness to make Japan a fuller participant in alliance decisionmaking that involves the Middle East.

All of this accords, of course, with the general expectation of a more active Japanese role globally as Japan emerges as a candidate for a permanent seat in the Security Council. Such candidacy will inevitably raise the issue of Japan's broader participation in UN peacekeeping and enforcement missions; as one U.S. diplomatic observer says, "Japan will not be taken seriously as a political power as long as it continues to project the image of a nation that is invariably prepared to adjust its position on issues of political principle in order to win narrow economic benefits." 42

In the context of a changing relationship with the United States, this also implies a willingness to act independently of U.S. policy in some cases. A more assertive policy, while still serving the common interests of both nations, will inevitably lead to some differences. Japan's Middle East policy can be, in the best case, both independent and coordinated with other Western nations. In some cases, it may even be closer to U.S. policy than it has been in the past; the Arab-Israeli arena comes to mind, as the U.S. experience seems to indicate that a policy of balance and mediation better serves the cause of stability than a policy of choosing sides. To build peace in this tangled conflict, good relations with both sides, including Israel, are necessary, and Japan has been moving in this direction.

On the other hand, there are problems in the Middle East toward which a more independent Japanese policy would be natural and beneficial.The U.S. relationship to Iran, for example, is freighted with baggage that makes an objective approach to conflict resolution extremely difficult. There is, at the least, room for doubt whether current U.S. policy toward that nation does, in fact, serve the world community's best interests. In this case, and perhaps others, Japan might be able to serve as a bridge between Middle East and West, since it is free from the taint of imperialism and cultural penetration in the area. There could be a "division of labor" between the United States and Japan (and others), in which each nation would focus on contributions to regional stability that best suited its own inclinations and capabilities. 43

There are a number of particular strengths that Japan can bring to this endeavor. Obviously economic contributions come to mind first, especially as greater emphasis on development emerges as one of the keys. But this role should be conceived as not only donor, but also as mentor and model. Japan's involvement raises much less suspicion in the area, and Japan's economic success has been an inspiration and prototype in the Middle East as elsewhere. Since 1990 Japan has been the largest aid donor in the world.

But involvement in Middle East stability involves more than aid programs alone. There are also political, diplomatic, and even security issues in which Japan can make a distinctive contribution, and in some cases already is making one. In a study of possible Japanese contributions to the Arab-Israeli peace process, Yasumasa Kuroda emphasizes the unique Japanese experience in internal conflict resolution and in building a communitarian society, arguing that such skills could be constructively applied to the Middle East. 44 It is not clear how far such cross-cultural transference can occur. More realistically, the Japanese practice of maintaining good relations with all parties could stand it in good stead as an honest broker in cases where the United States finds itself unable to act in that role. This has in fact already happened during the war between Iran and Iraq and in the United Nations deliberations to end that conflict.

As for contributions to security, Kuroda proposes a "neo-pacifist" stance in which Japanese military capabilities would be improved but would be deployed only under UN auspices as peacekeeping troops. 45 This would be merely an extension--albeit a very important one--to Japanese deployments already carried out in Cambodia and the Golan Heights. It might involve, however, some far-reaching changes in the structure and capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces.As to what other contributions Japan can make in the security realm, this will surely be one of the questions that will dominate Japanese foreign policy debates in the years to come.



Note *: Alan Dowty is Professor of Government and International Studies, and Fellow of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of six books or monographs and over one hundred articles on the Middle East, Israeli politics, and general international relations. back.

Note 1: See, for example, Kaoru Sugihara, "Japan, the Middle East and the World Economy: A Note on the Oil Triangle," in Kaoru Sugihara and J. A. Allan, eds., Japan in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge, 1993), pp. 1-13. back.

Note 2: Douglas R. Ostrom, "Trends in Japanese Trade with the Middle East," in Edward J. Lincoln, ed., Japan and the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: Middle East Institute, 1990), p. 18. back.

Note 3: Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Energy Production, Supply Demand Statistical Year Book; Long Term Energy Supply Outlook, June, 1994; BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 1996; IEA Statistics on Oil, Gas, Coal, and Electricity, Quarterly Statistics, Third Quarter, 1996; all cited by Yoshiki Hatanaka, "OPEC and Global Energy Supplies," in John Calabrese, ed., The United States, Japan, and the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: The Middle East Institute, 1997), pp.17, 19, 24. back.

Note 4: Yasumasa Kuroda, "Japan, the Arab World and Israel," American-Arab Affairs, No. 28 (Spring, 1989): 19. back.

Note 5 See, for example, the prominence given to diplomatic visitors in the official presentation of Japanese Middle Eastern policy on the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site, back.

Note 6: Japan's Economic Cooperation in the Middle East," Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site ( back.

Note 7: Discussion of this issue can be traced in the special issue of Middle East Economic Digest that focuses on Japan's economic relations with the region, published annually in December. See, for example, "Middle East Gets a Raw Deal," Middle East Economic Digest, 37 (Dec. 17, 1993): 12-13); "Trying Ever Harder to Turn the Tide," Middle East Economic Digest, 39 (Dec. 15, 1995): 35-36. back.

Note 8: Yasumasa Kuroda and Nobuo Asai, "West Asian Studies in Japan," in Tareq Y. Ismael, ed., Middle East Studies: International Perspectives on the State of the Art (Praeger, 1990), p. 185. The book was Michael M. Yoshitsu, Caught in the Middle East (Lexington Books, 1984). back.

Note 9 Hiroshi Shimizu, "The Japanese Trade Contact with the Middle East: Lessons from the Pre-Oil Period," in Sugihara and Allan, op. cit., pp. 27-53. back.

Note 10: Kazuo Chiba, "Japan and the Middle East in the 1970s and early 1980s: A Japanese Diplomat's View," in Sugihara and Allan, op. cit., pp. 152-153. back.

Note 11: Kuroda and Asai (op. cit., pp. 184-185)) note that until fairly recently Japanese national universities did not hire foreign professors as tenured faculty, a situation that handicapped all area studies centers that would normally depend on indigenous scholars skilled in the regional languages and cultures. back.

Note 12: In the case of the Arab-Israel conflict, for example, this translated into a preferred reading of UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November, 1967--the resolution that furnishes an agreed though ambiguous framework for a negotiated settlement of the conflict--that emphasized, well before the first oil crisis, the clause on the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and was thus "pro-Arab" in the political context of the time. This accorded, in the words of Prime Minister Takeo Miki, with "a basic part of our way of thinking . . . that the expansion of territories by force could never be permitted . . . . (personal interview with Michael Yoshitsu, in Yoshitsu, op. cit., p. 15. back.

Note 13: Yasumasa Kuroda, "Japan and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," in Lincoln, op. cit., pp. 45-46. back.

Note 14: Ryohei Murata, "Keynote Address," in Lincoln, op. cit., p. 6. back.

Note 15: Kuroda, "Japan, Arab World and Israel," p. 11. back.

Note 16: Shahram Chubin, "The Middle East in Alliance Politics," in Ronald A. Morse, ed., Japan and the Middle East in Alliance Politics (The Wilson Center, 1986), p. 20. back.

Note 17: Michael Sterner, "The Middle East Factor in U.S.-Japanese Relations," in Morse, op. cit., p. 74. back.

Note 18: Shuzo Kimura, "Japanese Middle East Policy--Impact of the Oil Crisis," American-Arab Affairs, No. 17 (Summer, 1986): 68-69. back.

Note 19: Roy Licklider, "Arab Oil and Japanese Foreign Policy," Middle East Review, 18 (Fall, 1985): 23-29; Akifumi Ikeda, "Japan's Relations with Israel," in Sugihara and Allan, op. cit., pp. 158-159. back.

Note 20: For a more complete analysis of the impact of the oil crises of the 1970s and 1980s, see Alan Dowty, "Oil Power in the 1980s," Jerusalem Journal of International Relations, 6 (No. 3, 1982-1983): 71-91; see also Robert Lieber, "Japan and the Middle East: Implications of the European Experience," in Morse, op. cit., p. 66; and Kuroda, "Japan and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," pp. 43-44. back.

Note 21: Ostrom, op. cit., p. 19. back.

Note 22: Peter Kemp, "Crisis Forces Policy Rethink," Middle East Business Weekly, 34 (Oct. 19, 1990): 15. back.

Note 23: Exports to the Middle East were 12.2 percent of all exports in 1982, and only 3.1 percent in 1989. Ostrom, op. cit., p. 19. back.

Note 24: Peter Kemp, "Oil Sector Sucks in the Imports," Middle East Economic Digest, 36 (Dec. 18, 1992): 19. back.

Note 25: J. A. Allan, "Japan and the Middle East: Trade, International Assistance, and International Relations," in Sugihara and Allan, op. cit., p. 25. back.

Note 26: Michael Berger, "Japan Debates a New Role: Facing the Mideast Crisis," The New Leader, 73 (Sept. 17, 1990): 5. back.

Note 27: Mike M. Mochizuki, "Japanese Security Policy," Council on Foreign Relations, Jan., 1997, Working Papers, Columbia University Affairs Online ( See also Peter Kemp, "Will Money Make More Friends?," Middle East Economic Digest, 39 (Dec. 15, 1995): 28. back.

Note 28: Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan's Post Gulf International Initiatives (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, August, 1991). back.

Note 29: Kunio Katakura and Motoko Katakura, Japan and the Middle East (The Middle East Institute of Japan, 1991), p. 106. back.

Note 30: "Middle East Gets a Raw Deal," Middle East Economic Digest, 37 (December 17, 1993): 12. back.

Note 31: On this point see Anthony H. Cordesman, "The United States, Japan, and the Gulf: Meeting External Challenges," in Morse, op. cit., p. 45. back.

Note 32: Interview with Miki, July 29, 1981, in Yoshitsu, op. cit., p. 13. back.

Note 33: Richard L. Armitage, "U.S.-Japan Relations in the Middle East," in Calabrese, op. cit., p. 7 back.

Note 34: William B. Quandt, "The United States, Japan and the Peace Process," in Calabrese, op. cit., p. 68. back.

Note 35: Kimura, op. cit., p. 78; Michael Sterner, "The Middle East Factor in U.S.-Japanese Relations," in Morse, op. cit., p. 77. back.

Note 36: Cordesman, op. cit., p. 48; Richard W. Murphy, "Japan, the United States, and the Gulf," in Lincoln, op. cit., pp. 68-69. back.

Note 37: See, for example, Cordesman, op. cit., pp. 40-45. back.

Note 38: James A. Placke, "Changing Oil Demand Patterns: Implications for the United States-Persian Gulf-Japan Triangle," in Calabrese, op. cit., pp. 27-29; Cordesman, op. cit., p. 38. back.

Note 39: Michael May, "Energy and Security in East Asia," Asia/Pacific Research Center, Working Papers, Columbia University Affairs Online (; Hatanaka, op. cit., p. 21; Ronald A. Morse, "Japan and OPEC in the Global Energy Market," in Lincoln, op. cit., p. 14. back.

Note 40: Yoshio Hatano, "Japan and the Middle East: Building a Partnership," in Calabrese, op. cit., p. 14. back.

Note 41: Allan, op, cit., p. 21 back.

Note 42: Sterner, op. cit., p. 78. back.

Note 43: On Japan as a bridge, see Mohammad Mahallati, "The United States, Japan, and Iran," in John Calabrese, ed., The United States, Japan, and the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: The Middle East Institute, 1998), p. 13; on the division of labor, see Murphy, op. cit., p. 68. back.

Note 44: Kuroda, Japan in a New World Order, passim. back.

Note 45: Ibid., p. 24. back.