BRUSSELS (May. 18)
Japan is reported to have made a concrete proposal that might improve the economies of Middle Eastern countries and advance peace in the region.
It was offered during a closed-door session of the multilateral conference on regional economic problems, held here last week under the European Community’s chairmanship.
The Japanese idea is to ease travel between Israel and the Arab countries for people from outside the region. That would encourage tourism, which in turn would stimulate investment in tourist infrastructure such as hotels, transportation and communications networks.
Moreover, the Japanese said, it would help protect the environment at historical sites.
Japan was represented at the conference by senior officials of its mission to the E.C. and from the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo.
“Japan considers that it’s important to start with something which creates the least problems,” said Tomio Uchida, head of the Japanese delegation.
“As tourism is said to be a passport for peace, we propose that liberalization measures for the movement of foreign tourists in the region become a high priority in this working group,” he said.
At present, tourists can travel freely between Israel and Egypt, which have a peace treaty, but not between Israel and any other Arab country. The Japanese plan apparently would remedy that before Israel concludes peace treaties with its other neighbors.