January 18, 2015
Speech by Prime Minister Abe "The Best Way Is to Go in the Middle"
5. Japan and the Middle East Peace Process
Ladies and gentlemen, the state of the Middle East peace process, or more precisely the difficulty thereof, causes me great pain, as it does to you.
Believing that dialogue that includes neighboring countries is indispensable, and that cooperation and building trust among these countries are also indispensable in advancing the peace process, nine years ago Japan proposed launching a “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” on the West Bank.
Our ardent wish is that the project nurtures an asset that is vitally important for the peace process, the asset of trust that encompasses all those involved in the region. To make our wish come true, my country is working on the project hand in hand with Israel, Jordan, and Palestine.
The agro-industrial complex that is at the core of the corridor project has now taken shape. I am going to visit the site to see it with my own eyes. In the not so distant future, agricultural products from around Jericho will receive added value there. They will then make their way through the corridor to reach consumer markets in the neighborhood and in the Gulf region.
Over time, the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” might well turn into a great destination for tourists. Shall we not work to make Palestine a place bustling with tourism? Japan will gladly serve as a catalyst to make that happen.
Now, for 18 long years since 1997, the Japanese government has been inviting young men and women from both Israel and Palestine to Japan to let them mingle with each other while spending time in the country.
When the participants came to visit me, I conveyed to these young people the words of Prince Shotoku, who lived in the 7th century, that “Harmony is to be cherished.”
I would like these young people in particular to become a young force shouldering the responsibility of peace. That is the aspiration I entrusted to them. This time, during my visit to the region, we will hold a reunion, bringing together the alumni.
Japan believes that the day will come in the near future when we can recognize Palestine as a state.
In order for that day to arrive sooner, we will appeal to both Israel and Palestine to resume negotiations to advance the so-called Two-State Solution.
Please also call to mind the framework known as the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development, or “CEAPAD.”
Japan, which revived from the devastation of war, and the countries of Southeast Asia, which have achieved rapid economic progress in only a single generation, have an abundance of experience and wisdom to be harnessed in assisting Palestine.
This framework began under the auspices of Japan and aims to help build collective knowledge to be used for Palestine.
Japan has been a country engaged in enduring cooperation over the long term in order to cultivate trust, which is indispensable for peace in the Middle East.
I would like to add that Japan stands ready to undertake with great willingness whatever role is appropriate for us to carry out.