Remarks made by Japanese Ambassador to Azerbaijan Junichi Wada have sent ripples through the diplomatic community. During a meeting with Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, the Japanese Ambassador expressed Japan’s interest in “cooperating with Azerbaijan in military matters.”
According to an announcement made by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, Wada met with Hasanov on Jan. 14 and stressed that “I will do everything I can to advance our bilateral relations, especially cooperation in the military field.” The ministry’s website shows Wada and Hasanov sitting together wearing masks.
Wada became a diplomat after working at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. He worked at the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s Policy Planning and Coordination Division and was director of its Legislation Planning Office. Wada also served at the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, where he led the Retail and Wholesale Commerce Division of the Business Support Department. He took up his post in Azerbaijan in March 2020.
Azerbaijan has recently had military clashes with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. “Cooperating with Azerbaijan in military matters means making Armenia an enemy,” a Western diplomatic source said. “Is Japan’s foreign policy doing okay?”
Many doubt the wisdom of sending an economic official with no real diplomatic experience to serve as ambassador to a country involved in an international conflict.