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Japan is Eager to Have Closer Relations with Israel

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir was flying home today from his official visit to Japan “satisfied and optimistic,” according to Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem.

Shamir met yesterday with Premier Yasuhiro Nakasone and Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, and heard from both of them that Tokyo is eager to have closer relations with Israel.

The group of Israeli business executives who accompanied Shamir on his visit have stayed on for detailed trade talks with Japanese officials and representatives of leading companies.

The Israeli troup met with some of the top names in Japanese industry at the prestigious Kei Damien Commercial Centre. Among those present were representatives from Toyota, Mitsubishi and other major firms which have traditionally shunned direct contact with Israel for fear of losing Arab markets.

In all his numerous meetings during five days in Tokyo, Shamir stressed Israel’s consistent argument that close ties with Israel, both commercial and political, need not weaken Japan’s ties with the Arab states.

Nakasone said Japan was intensifying its political interest and involvement in the Middle East. “We are interested in a dialogue with both sides,” he was quoted as saying by Israeli sources. Nakasone noted that Japan’s markets were open and free — and Israeli companies were welcome to compete for them.

Shamir invited Abe to visit Israel, and the Japanese minister accepted “in principle.”

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