The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations have issued a joint statement in support of Israel, but Japan and Canada abstained from voting
Japan has maintained a neutral stance in this Israel-Hamas war. The island country has been caught off guard in deciding their voice due to the evergreen question as to what would happen to their oil supplies from the Middle East.
Yoko Kamikawa, the Japanese Foreign Minister, said in front of a press conference that the ongoing conflict is still in a developing phase, and Japan is taking a stand based on the latest developments. The reporters asked about whether Japan has a more discreet approach compared to its G7 members.
The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations have issued a joint statement in support of Israel, but Japan and Canada abstained from voting. Japan is heavily dependent on oil and gas supplies from the Middle East. This has kept them from participating in voting for support on either side of the war.
Tokyo is set to host a meeting for the foreign ministers of the G7 nations the following month, where the present war will be the top agenda for discussions. This is further going to trouble Japan in standing in unison with its G7 peers. To date, it has somehow managed to hold rhetoric, but the coming days could be more challenging.
The conflict has had a negligible effect on the oil and gas prices in the global market as Israel is not a major producer of crude. Investors and market participants are analysing how much this conflict will escalate and what the impact will be on supply lines from the nearby countries that happen to be some of the largest producers of oil in the world.
Japan had issued a public statement where it condemned the attacks and is worried about the Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip. It didn’t recognise the Hamas attacks as an act of terrorism or rather call for Israel’s right to defend itself. These statements sounded similar to the ones issued by other industrialised nations of the G7 till 11th October.
Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, abstained from signing the statement issued by G7 on 9th October. The G7 finance ministers met in Morocco on 12th October and issued a statement against the attacks on Israel. An anonymous government official said that Tokyo should refrain from workings that would appear as inciting.
Japan has for decades maintained a neutral stance throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and called for a settlement through diplomatic talks. It had earlier criticised Israel for permitting the construction of settlements in 1967 beyond the national borders.
During the 1973 oil crisis, Tokyo got a bitter taste of an oil crunch when the Middle East oil producers issued an embargo against specific nations, including Japan, who had supported Israel in its war with the Arab states. It took a lesson from those painful memories and, since then, has maintained relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran; these two are arch rivals of each other besides being the major oil producers. Japan realised that always walking in the footsteps of the US can be dangerous as it has its own oil fields and there are very poor energy resources.
David Boling, a director at Eurasia, said that Japan’s Middle Eastern policies have secured its oil imports from the Gulf region, and any wrong step during this conflict can pose a threat to the pipeline.
A US official stated that Washington and Tokyo have a slight gap in their stand in the present war and that Japan is walking on a fine line in the developing course of the events besides maintaining its national interests. The United States is Japan’s closest ally, but in matters concerning the Middle East, Tokyo maintains a different stance based on its national security.