Opinion: Roadmap towards a true alliance between Japan and Israel on the 70th anniversary. ties in 2022

This photo shows co-authors Rabbi Abraham Cooper, left, and Kinue Tokudome. (Courtesy of the co-authors)

Next year, Japan and Israel will take an important milestone: 70 years since the establishment of relations between these two unique democracies. During this period, both countries have made immense progress since the uncertain times following World War II. Today, in the 21st century, they are both among the most technologically advanced democracies.

Recently, some have suggested that Japan and Israel may even form a powerful new alliance with the United States. While this is a wonderful vision worth pursuing by both countries, it is imperative that Japan first address its policy towards Israel which has deeply disappointed those who would support closer ties.

A few months ago, we published an op-ed in this article calling for a boycott of Japan of the 20th anniversary of the Anti-Israel Conference in Durban (United Nations World Conference Against Racism). Sadly, Japan participated in the anniversary event of the hate-filled anti-Semitic conference, rather than joining 37 major countries, including all other G-7 members, who boycotted it.

Then, on December 1, we were shocked to learn that Japan voted in favor of a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly that referred to the site of King Solomon’s ancient sacred temple (Temple Mount ) exclusively by its Islamic name. The United States and other democracies have denounced this decision and refused to approve such a resolution which erodes confidence that the United Nations will one day have a positive role to play in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, many Israelis were in disbelief that Japan, a proud ancient people and culture who zealously revere and protect their past, so cruelly deny the Jewish people the right to protect and celebrate their 3,500 years. of history.

Another concern is Japan’s silence on the issue of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Many other groups, including other donor countries, have raised their voices to criticize UNRWA’s corruption and hate education.

And then there are the recurring incidents in the political and social arenas of Japan that reveal shocking ignorance, including dabbling with incorrect references to Nazis and Nazi symbols and even flirting with fascists and late-day Nazis. . Such disturbing incidents even threatened to spoil the opening of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and tarnished the reputations of several Japanese politicians.

But the good news is that Japanese and Israeli joint ventures are at an all time high. Israel is no longer a distant and unknown place to Japan but a true partner in the economic sphere. With shared democratic values ​​and tech-driven economies, there is much to be gained from forming a strong alliance between the two countries, or even an alliance that includes the United States.

However, if Japan sincerely wants to form such an alliance, the Japanese government must show that Japan indeed shares the same values ​​as Israel and the United States. which directly threaten the very existence of Israel.

Alliances are built on trust. Israel cannot trust Japan if it maintains permanent ties to Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime in Iran, a regime that has publicly vowed to annihilate the Jewish state.

To begin forging a true alliance, Japan can take the following proactive steps to reverse the repeated positions it has taken against Israel.

First, Japan must reverse its long-standing and outdated position at the UN It is no secret that UN agencies, especially the Human Rights Council (UNHRC), are attacking in series the Jewish state. Such reckless behavior bordering on overt anti-Semitism would change if influential countries like Japan aligned with other democracies and voted ‘no’.

Second, it should capitalize on its unique position as a major donor to UNRWA by calling for significant reform and transparency in everything from its financial malfeasance to the blatant anti-peace agenda imposed on Palestinian children.

Third, it is high time the Japanese government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and followed its illustrative examples for guidance.

As the world witnesses a staggering increase in anti-Semitic incidents, the IHRA’s definition has been adopted by major democratic countries, including South Korea, which was the first Asian country to do so last August.

These steps will create the appropriate basis for a solid alliance between the two countries.

Finally, the two governments can work closely together to deepen and extend the Abrahamic accords in the Arab-Muslim world and beyond. Such efforts will also advance Japan’s most important diplomatic policy of a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” given the traditionally close relationship between Israel and Australia and the recently flourishing one between Israel and India. They both refused to support the UN resolution that denied Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.

We know there is a Japanese hero, the late Chiune Sugihara, who would smile from the sky if the 70th anniversary spurred a new level of cooperation between our peoples. He helped the Jews when they needed it most during the Holocaust. He refused to sit on the sidelines and saved thousands of Jews from certain death.

By following the above road map, Japan has the opportunity to build a new and dynamic alliance between Japan, Israel and the United States. with Israel, an old / new nation that shares similar values. Forging a new alliance between these influential democracies can mark a promising new era for these countries and the world.

(By Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Kinue Tokudome)

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the Associate Dean and Director of Global Advocacy for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Kinue Tokudome is a Japanese author and translator who recently translated, “Dreams Never Dreamed”, a memoir by Rabbi Kalman Samuels, founder of Shalva, a care facility for disabled children in Jerusalem.

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