(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Wednesday, 24 July 2013), met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. The two made the following statements at the start of their meeting:
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"Foreign Minister, Kishida, welcome to Jerusalem. It is a pleasure to welcome you here in Israel.
Japan and Israel are two countries separated by the vast continent of Asia. You are on the Eastern tip of Asia; we are at the Western edge of Asia. But though there is a great geographical expanse between us we share a special relationship. In fact Japan is one of Israel's oldest friends in Asia.
Last year we celebrated the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. We are two peoples with a proud cultural heritage and a rich history. Yet, at the same time, we are two peoples with a great past but also two peoples that embrace the future.
Japan and Israel are two democracies that seek peace, security and prosperity for our peoples, and we work very hard to achieve it. You have exploded with Japan's technology and industry and I dare say that we are doing the same here in Israel. We can better advance our common goals by strengthening our bilateral cooperation – in economics and trade and investment, in science, technology and R&D, in regional cooperation, in diplomacy and in security.
We both want to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I hope that soon we will be able to see the beginning of peace talks. Our team is ready – we've always been ready. And I want to thank Japan for its support for peace, specifically for the project called "The Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" in the Jordan Rift. This is something that is a Japanese initiative that works together with Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority for the economic advancement of everyone and I think it shows that regional cooperation can work, that it can make a tangible difference.
Mr. Minister, both Japan and Israel face rogue states with dangerous nuclear weapons programs. We know well the threat to our own security and to global security posed by irrational and extreme regimes that seek to arm themselves with atomic weapons – not only with atomic weapons but also with ballistic missiles to deliver them. On Iran, it is crucial that we see a change in Iran's policy, not a change in style, but a change in substance. And that can only be gauged by meeting the demands of the United Nations Security Council. Iran must stop all enrichment. It must remove all the enriched nuclear material from its territory. It must shut down the illicit nuclear facility in Qom. And all work on plutonium production must cease. I believe, Mr. Minister, that the pressure on Iran must increase because that's the only way we'll see a real change in Iran's behavior.
It is my hope, Foreign Minister Kishida, that your visit here will serve to further enhance the cooperation between our two countries. I know that you are celebrating your birthday and I want to offer you my personal congratulations and also to raise a toast – I don't have a glass in my hand – but to raise a toast for the friendship between our two countries, which I am sure this visit will enhance.
Welcome to Jerusalem."
Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida:
"Prime Minister Netanyahu, thank you very much for your warm words.
First I would like to express my appreciation to the warm hospitality provided by the Israeli side, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, to my visit.
I think Israel is a country which has always been under the spotlight in the international community, whether by producing many excellent personnel and technology to the world, or by being at the fore front of the Middle-East peace process, which is an essential issue of the international community.
Also, Japan and Israel have enjoyed good relationship and I always wanted to visit Israel, and at this time I’m very pleased to be able to finally visit your country.
As the Prime Minister mentioned, we have made a great progress in the cooperation between the two countries in the areas such as political, economic, culture and also science and technology.
Last year was the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. We’d like to make this year as the start of another 60 years of friendship, invite to make cooperation towards the future.
Also, on the occasion of the unprecedented Great East Japan Earthquake which hit Japan two years ago, we received warm words of condolences and swift assistance from Israel. I’d like to express once again appreciation for that. In particular I appreciate the dispatch of the medical assistance unit to Minamisanriku-Chō. This assistance touched the hearts of people and the people of the local community. It was an opportunity which allowed many people to strongly recognize the friendship between Israel and Japan.
There was a positive development on the Middle-East peace process just before my visit. I welcome such positive development.
Today, I’m looking forward to exchanging views with Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Japan-Israel relationship and also issues concerning the Middle-East peace process, which the Prime Minister is a leading figure in this.
I’d like to conclude my remarks by asking and also expressing once again my appreciation to the Prime Minister for his kind advice and cooperation toward the bilateral relationship that we have."