Japan PM said to tell Netanyahu his country still supports Iran nuclear deal

At meeting in Jerusalem, Shinzo Abe asks prime minister to restrain settlement construction, stresses support for two-state solution

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (r) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on May 2, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (r) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on May 2, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly telling his host that he still supports the Iran nuclear deal,  despite Netanyahu telling him the accord was “based on lies.”

Japanese officials told the Haaretz daily that Abe stood behind his country’s support for the 2015 agreement. Abe is on a two-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu raised the issue of Iran during his sit-down with his Japanese counterpart at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem and discussed the 100,000 files that the Mossad recovered in its intelligence operation earlier this year in Tehran, the PMO said in a statement.

“Iran kept all the (nuclear) plans. Those who do not want nuclear weapons do not make plans and certainly do not keep them,” Netanyahu told Abe.

The prime minister told Abe that the Iranian nuclear deal was “a bad agreement based on the lies and scams of Iran.” The PMO did not relay Abe’s response.

However, Abe said he believed the Iranian nuclear deal helped bring stability to the region, Haaretz reported.

Israel’s reveal of the intelligence trove on Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions was met with skepticism by world leaders who support the accord, many of which noted that there was no actual evidence that the 2015 accord had been violated.

The Hebrew daily also said that the Japanese prime minister stressed his support for the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and told Netanyahu that Tokyo would not move its embassy to Jerusalem until final status issues are resolved.

During the meeting Abe also asked Netanyahu to rein in settlement construction.

On Tuesday Abe said that Japan has no plans to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to Palestinian media reports.

Netanyahu and Abe also agree to work towards initiating direct flights between the two countries.

The PMO’s statement said the two leaders agreed that such flights would boost tourism and investment in both countries.

Netanyahu also lauded “the tremendous growth in Japanese investments in Israel and Israeli investments in Japan.”

Abe told Netanyahu he was “very happy to note that there is a dramatic increase in Japanese investments in Israel under my government, and I brought with me a business delegation from Japan to Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C-R) and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C-L) pose for a group picture during a meeting with Japanese businessmen at the PM’s office in Jerusalem on May 2, 2018. (AFP/Abir Sultan)

“I have brought with me a business delegation from Japan to Israel that includes many CEOs, and I hope that you will have fruitful discussions with the business leaders at the summit meetings we plan to hold and I also hope that we will see more mutual investments,” Abe said.

In January 2015 the Israeli government decided to strengthen economic ties with Japan, and in February 2017 a precedent-setting agreement was signed between the two countries to protect investments. In 2017 alone there were 50 investments by Japanese companies in Israeli companies, the PMO said.

The prime minister also asked Abe to lift his foreign ministry’s travel warning regarding flights to Israel.

Abe said he will send a representative to the region to examine the issue, according to the Israeli Ynet news site.

Abe thanked Netanyahu for his hospitality and invited the prime minister to make a reciprocal visit in Japan in the coming year.

“This is your second visit to Israel. My last visit to Japan was exceptional,” Netanyahu said. “We have seen tremendous growth in Japanese investments in Israel, Israeli investments in Japan, and of technological opportunities. This is a good partnership and we will strengthen it even more.”

Netanyahu visited Japan in 2014 and Abe first visited Israel in 2015.

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