JERUSALEM (Jun. 26)
Japan plans to take a more active role to help resolve the Middle East conflict, its foreign minister, Sosuke Uno, told Israeli leaders and Palestinians during a busy one-day visit Sunday.
According to Israeli sources, he stressed to Premier Yitzhak Shamir that Japan recognize the Palestinians’ right to self determination, as well as the right of all states in the region to peace and security.
Uno’s stopover in Israel — the first by a Japanese Cabinet minister — is in reciprocation for the official visit Shamir made to Japan more than two years ago, when he was foreign minister. It is part of a regional tour that includes Syria, Egypt and Jordan.
The Japanese diplomat met separately with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. He also met with six Palestinian leaders, including a businessman from Nablus and political activist Feisal Husseini of Jerusalem, who was just released from six months’ administrative detention.
Uno did not respond to their demand that Japan severely limit its trade with Israel, pending a political settlement in the region.
The Palestinians told reporters later that Japan was trying to bring about a direct dialogue between the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
According to the Palestinians, Uno was impressed by the recent publication of a moderate position paper by Bassam Abu Sharif, an aide to PLO chief Yasir Arafat.
TOURS DEHAISHE REFUGEE CAMP
Uno visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and toured the Dehaishe refugee camp, near Bethlehem. He pledged a quarter million dollars toward construction of a community center at the refugee camp and a further $250,000 contribution to the United Nations Work and Relief Agency for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank.
Israeli sources said Uno expressed distress to Shamir over conditions at the Dehaishe camp, whereupon the Israeli premier called on Japan to contribute toward an internationally funded refugee resettlement program. Shamir proposed such a program in tandem with political efforts to resolve the conflict.
The sources said Uno made no response to that suggestion or to Shamir’s observation that Japan alone among the major industrialized nations still conformed to some aspects of the Arab boycott of Israel.
Israel Radio reported that Shamir questioned his guest about the current proliferation of anti-Semitic books and tracts in Japan. According to the radio report, Uno said that he had never seen such material himself.
But he observed that he had been questioned about it during a recent visit to the United States and would certainly look into the matter.
According to Western media reports, hundreds of thousands of copies of the notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are on sale in Japan, along with other anti-Semitic calumnies, some of them recent works by Japanese authors.