Japan Making Good on Its Pledge to End Arab Boycott Compliance

Japan appears to be making good on its pledge to end cooperation with the Arab economic boycott of Israel.

The government has advised leading Japanese firms to stop complying with the terms of the boycott, Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe told a visiting delegation of American Jewish Committee leaders here this week.

He said the government has also asked its ambassadors to various Arab League states to urge an end to the blacklisting of companies trading with Israel.

In pursuit of a new economic opening to Israel, Japanese chambers of commerce have agreed to stop issuing “negative certificates of origin,” Watanabe told the American Jewish Committee group. The certificates attest to products being free of parts made in Israel.

Japan also plans to expand its sparse commercial contacts with Israel, the foreign minister told the delegation, which was led by Robert Rifkind, chairman of AJCommittee’s board of governors, and David Harris, its executive vice president.

In New York, a spokesman for the World Jewish Congress welcomed the turnabout in a policy that, he said, had made Japan a leader among industrialized countries in following the dictates of the Arab boycott.

“Problems still remain, such as the reluctance of the Japanese to invest in Israel. But this development is very positive,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit by an Israeli company against a Chicago-based Japanese bank.

The lawsuit alleges that Sanwa Bank withdrew from a pending credit agreement with Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. and another company out of compliance with the Arab boycott. The bank is headquartered in Osaka.

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