TOKYO (May. 25)
Japan is now taking a much more active, evenhanded approach to the Middle East, according to World Jewish Congress Co-chairman Isi Leibler, who met here Friday with Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe.
Among other things, Japan intends to play a role in Middle East reconstruction as part of the peace process, Watanabe told his visitor.
Watanabe, who also holds the rank of deputy prime minister, welcomed the "great developments" in the Middle East peace talks and said that if they proceed smoothly, Japan "intends to provide its assistance in the fields of reconstruction and environment," Leibler reported.
"This was extremely encouraging, and it reinforces the impression I received on my last visit to Tokyo six months ago that Japan is now taking a much more active and evenhanded approach to the Middle East," said Leibler.
He said Watanabe’s reference to the possibility of a Japanese role in reconstruction "points to an extremely important area where Japan can take the lead" in bringing stability to a chronically unstable area of the world.
"I can imagine some kind of Japanese ‘Marshall Plan’ which, if properly coordinated with all the governments in the region, could bring very great benefits to everyone," Leibler said.