Japan has decided to join the race for positions of vantage in the Middle East, along with the Russians in Syria and Lebanon, the Chinese in Iran, and the Europeans on Lebanon on- and offshore.
Last month, Tokyo approached the Americans with a small request: they want to join the Middle East Quartet for promoting peace diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians. The Quartet is composed of representatives of the United States, Russia, The European Union and the UN secretary general.
Washington turned Japan down flat. US diplomats explained to the crestfallen Japanese that if they were co-opted to the group, many other powers, such China and India, would clamor for admittance.
This refusal did not go down well in Tokyo. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and its foreign minister Taro Aso think they deserve better in view of their cooperation with the Americans on such sensitive issues as the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Persian Gulf sources report that Japan is secretly collaborating with America’s financial warfare against the Iranian economy.
Japanese banks have closed their doors to transactions with firms or private parties which have investments in Iranian industries. Japanese banks have been instructed by their government to boycott Iranian banks according to a secret list drawn up by the Japanese treasury. Tokyo has turned down offers from Tehran to turn over a part of Iran’s reserves to Japanese banks if these sanctions are dropped.
Because of these steps, Japan has been forced to abandon its plans to invest and develop the big Iranian oil and gas field of Azadegan and forfeit most of its concessions in the field. They were quickly snapped up by China.
Considering the extent of its cooperation with America and the losses incurred, the Japanese government expected Washington to be more forthcoming to its request. They would have been content to hear that, because of Chinese and Indian sensitivity, it would take some time to process the Japanese request for membership of the Quartet.
The Bush administration should have held the option open, not slammed the door in their faces.
Even if China had threatened to block Japanese membership with their Security Council veto, Washington ought to have taxed Beijing with failing to deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon despite its extensive ties with the ayatollahs. It is not right, says Tokyo, for Japan to spearhead the Asian sanctions campaign against Iran while the Chinese and Indians harvest political gains.