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Japan can do more to bring peace to Gaza: Palestinian ambassador

Palestinian Ambassador to Japan Waleed Ali Siam, who has been the heading the Palestine mission in Japan since 2003, thinks Japan could play a better role to bring about peace in Gaza.

TOKYO: Japan has sent foreign ministry representatives to Israel and Palestine with the hope of affirming bilateral ties and to encourage an end to the bloodshed in the region.

Japan has managed to maintain good relations with both governments. It welcomed Israel's Prime Minister in May and has been a long-time donor of financial and technical aid to Palestine.

But Palestinian Ambassador to Japan Waleed Ali Siam, who has been the heading the Palestine mission in Japan since 2003, thinks the Abe government can do more.

He is thankful for the economic contribution Japan has made to his country - a total of US$14.5 million (S$17.9 million) since 1993, which makes Japan one of the territory's largest donor nations.

But Mr Siam says Japan could play a better role to bring about peace in Gaza. He was speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

"Japan is a member of the United Nations. Japan is trying to be on the Security Council. I think they should enforce peace by using the resolution in that organization," he said.

On Tuesday (July 22), Jordan circulated to the UN Security Council a draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The Abe government is trying to mediate the conflict in Gaza. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has had a 30-minute teleconference with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Abe has urged for maximum restraint to end the vicious cycle of violence, and has strongly requested that Israel make the courageous decision to initiate a ceasefire. He's also sent Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi to Israel and Palestine.

"Right now, Vice Minister Kishi is on his way. He is expected to meet with top officials of Israel and Palestine, exchange views, and explain Japan's position that we will strengthen our dialogue with Israel and Palestine," said Kuni Sato, press secretary of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affiars, when asked about what Mr Kishi's trip was meant to achieve.

But Mr Siam says that Japan needs to build a clearer picture of the ongoing crisis in Gaza, before the country can effectively contribute to a peace process.

"I showed, the other day to Japanese officials pictures of the destruction of Gaza and pictures of the children of Gaza. And his reaction was he never thought that it was that way. So I believe that Japan to play an important role in the peace process has to go on the ground, check the facts and them make up the statements," said Mr Siam.

He says the Japanese media also needs a better understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to improve the way it reports on the situation. 

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