June 5, 2017 — Washington, D.C.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a strong message of support to the AJC Global Forum. He spoke about his country’s robust relations with the United States and the American Jewish community. The message was read by Kentaro Sonoura, Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, during the World Leaders Plenary session.
“Japan attaches great importance to ties with the Jewish people,” said Prime Minister Abe. “Our exchanges with the Jewish community in the United States form an important tie supporting the Japan-U.S. alliance.” The prime minister noted that he has welcomed AJC delegations to Tokyo annually since he assumed office.
“The relationship between the Japanese and Jewish people has been fostered by actions of our forerunners such as Chiune Sugihara, who saved many Jewish people during the Second World War,” said Abe, referring to the Japanese diplomat, based in Lithuania, who issued thousands of visas to European Jews fleeing the Nazis. “Today, we have the opportunity to develop Japanese-Jewish relations," he stated.
Sonoura, reinforcing the prime minister’s remarks on Japan’s close, cooperative relations with the United States and the Jewish community, said that since the Trump Administration took office in January, “the leaders of Japan and the United States have had close coordination based on personal relationships of trust. Our alliance is becoming stronger.”
For the Asia-Pacific region, he said, “the Japan-U.S. alliance, based on the universal values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, has been increasingly important for the peace and stability of the region.”
Sonoura also spoke enthusiastically about Japan's relations with Israel, and his two visits there. Since 2014, “every aspect of Japan-Israel relations has dramatically progressed. Six cabinet members have visited each other’s country this year. Japan’s direct investment into Israel has increased 20 times over the past three years,” said Sonoura.
Echoing the prime minister's message regarding the importance of Japan’s’ relations with the Jewish community, Sonoura said, “AJC plays a prominent role in deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance.”
Relations with the Jewish people are being further strengthened today by exchange programs. “I myself have met with young members of AJC many times in Japan,” who came at the invitation of the Japanese government, he said. In July, Japanese diplomats will visit Israel for an educational seminar hosted by AJC’s Project Interchange.
“We are honored that Minister Sonoura made a special trip to Washington to share his perspective on regional and global challenges, and deliver a message to AJC from Prime Minister Abe,” said AJC CEO David Harris, who, together with an AJC delegation, last met with the prime minister in Tokyo in October 2016.
AJC has been actively engaged with Japan for nearly 30 years through its pioneering Asia Pacific Institute (API), the first of its kind in the Jewish world, which is today chaired by Jeffrey Stone and directed by Shira Loewenberg.
The AJC Global Forum, taking place June 4-6 in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together more than 2,500 participants from across the United States and 70 countries around the world.