JERUSALEM — Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono arrived in Israel on Monday on the first leg of a Middle East tour that will also take him to Palestine, following U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
During his six-day tour, Kono is expected to tell both sides that Japan does not agree with the U.S. decision and urge them to move the peace process forward, according to Foreign Ministry sources.
Kono’s second trip to the region in less than a month follows Trump’s announcement that the United States is recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will transfer the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
In Jerusalem on Monday, Kono is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials.
Later in the day, Kono is expected to visit Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian authority in the West Bank, where Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops have clashed since Trump’s announcement. A meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also being arranged.
Trump’s decision has caused a dilemma for Japan, a close U.S. ally. Japan was among the 128 countries that voted in favor of a resolution denouncing the U.S. decision in a U.N. General Assembly emergency special session on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Kono plans to visit the West Bank city of Jericho to inspect an agro-industrial park project, a centerpiece of the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” development concept involving Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Japan.
Japan supports a two-state solution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, and takes the position that the final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations between the parties. Tokyo has also maintained that it will not move its embassy to Jerusalem.
The Japanese foreign minister’s Middle East tour will also take him to Jordan, Oman and Turkey, before he returns to Japan on Friday.
Kono visited Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates earlier this month. In September, about a month after taking up his post, the minister went to Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.