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Israel, Japan enhance bilateral ties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a four-day working visit to Japan. During his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he was urged to resume the stalled peace talks with the Palestinian leadership. and Mr Abe expressed his willingness to do what he could to help.

TOKYO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a four-day working visit to Japan.

During his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he was urged to resume the stalled peace talks with the Palestinian leadership. and Mr Abe expressed his willingness to do what he could to help.

Japan has good ties with both Israel and the Palestinian territories, with Japan providing the Palestinians with US$13.5 million in aid, the largest amount after the US and EU.

Professor Narushige Michishita, director of security and international studies at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said: "Traditionally, we had to pay a lot of attention to our relationship with Arab countries, traditional rivals of Israel because they are important source of energy for Japan.

"The Israel-Japan relationship has not been fully developed. Potential for cooperation is also not fully exploited. I think there's a lot we can do together."

For the first time, Japan and Israel discussed security cooperation -- agreeing to promote exchanges between their defence authorities at ministerial levels, a move that will be keenly watched by Israel's neighbours in the middle-east and Japan's neighbours in Northeast Asia.

In a joint statement, they also agreed to enhance investment, conduct industrial research and development, as well as increase cooperation in the tourism, farm and fishery sectors -- following Israel's move to lift import restrictions it placed on Japanese products after the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Despite Japan's wariness of upsetting ties with Arab countries, Eugene Kandel, who is the head of the National Economic Council at the Prime Minister's Office of Israel, said he wants to develop closer economic relations as there are no Japanese companies working with Israeli companies at present. 

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