Worldwide Twists and Japan°«s Turn


Tetsundo Iwakuni

Director-General, International Department

The Democratic Party of Japan

Member of the House of Representatives

March 15 2009


° T£Úanslation from the column °»Ichigetsusanshu°… at a Japanese newspaper °»NIHONKAI-SHIMBUN°…°ň


    It is not an exaggeration to say that the world is filled with expectations for American President Obama°«s °»change.°…

However, the old concept of the American empire is still largely prevalent in new diplomacy in spite of the new policies that the United States has adopted. Numerous people have been disappointed because of this.


U.S. diplomacy has not changed


    A comprehensible example of America°«s unchanged diplomatic stance is its attitude toward the Middle East.

    Bush°«s foreign policy, which may be described as °»push and push,°… is absolutely hostile toward Iran which is the Middle Eastern country that is most frequently considered to be the °»fire°… of world dispute rather than the °»cause.°… The U.S. has been regarding Iran as the °»axis of evil,°… °»base of oppression,°… and °»state sponsor of terrorism.°…

    The U.S. administration has changed; the new Obama administration calls itself the °»soft power°… or °»smart power,°… and has been frantic about causing a change. However, the diplomatic essence of the U.S. still remains unchanged. By dealing with another large country, Russia, the U.S. is trying to compel Iran to surrender by means of political pressure.

    Furthermore, the U.S. aims to isolate Iran from Syria—a powerful Muslim nation like Iran—by creating a rift between the two nations. Although the United States has mentioned that it will hold negotiations with Iran, it highly suspects Iran°«s denial of nuclear weapon development. The United States does not acknowledge Iran°«s commitment to using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. However, stability and peaceful order in the Middle East will certainly not arise from America°«s three-point set diplomacy of °»pressure, distrust, and abhorrence.°…


A simple correlation that gave birth to concession


    Having resided in the Middle East while working as the head of Nikko, Beirut, I have witnessed the United States°« confrontation with the Muslim nations with respect to the petrodollar. Working as the general manager of Nikko, Paris, I have also witnessed Europe being in a financial pandemonium caused by the concentration of the world°«s capital on oil-producing countries, which was led by the sudden rise in oil prices.


    Bunkers all over the world consecutively headed for Beirut


    It was a crucial order to retrieve the capital that had hitherto been concentrated in the Arab nations from across the world by all possible strategies and means because of the growing hostility toward them. Moreover, it was a mode of circulation in order to prevent the shortage of funds and a state of global slowdown.


    With an aim to acquire capital, I headed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    I received the following message the headquarters of my company:

Is it possible to procure the capital for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and Toshiba in the Middle East?

    I consulted the chairman of the corresponding bank in Beirut, with whom I had met earlier. He said that, °»We do not want to function as an existing bank syndicate in the United States and Europe. We hope to transfer funds of the Arab nations by the medium of the Arabs themselves.°… The manager planned to enter the markets of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well. Finally, a report from Tokyo was released and the first-ever Arab financial syndicate was established.

    The Ministry of Finance in Japan had planned to do this. The people of Europe and America were encouraged to participate as well, but it is unclear whether or not there was pressure against doing so from Europe and America. The foreign loan issue permission for Honda Motor Co., Ltd. could be obtained only if the condition proposed by the Arab delegation would be accepted.

    The condition was that the Arab delegation would permit only the Japanese company of Nikko into the management, and exclude companies from Europe and America. We, the Japanese delegation, emphasized that we would follow only that one condition. However, we were confronted by a difficulty.

    During that period, an enterprise that had business relations with Israel was listed in the °»Arab boycott list,°… which includes renowned banks such as Rothschild, Warburg, and Lehman Brothers Holdings from the financial world and other companies like Ford, Xerox, and Fuji Photo Film.

    This gives rise to the problem that a contract involving these boycotted banks will not be approved by the Arab side. Antipathy toward the stubborn attitude of the Arab world aggravated further in Europe and America.

    The threat of an impending war was a crucial issue being discussed by both the delegations that were located in two different rooms facing each other, separated only by a passage at a London hotel. While continuously visiting the two rooms, I contemplated the following.

The Arab world is not hostile toward Japan.

Japan is not hostile to Europe and America.


    Then, I contrived the idea of dividing one contract into two separate documents. Firstly, Nikko Securities signs the contract with Honda Motor Co., Ltd., which was an issue of discussion with the Arab delegation. Further, another °»re-undertaking contract°… is prepared for the undertaking manager and only Nikko signs that contract, which is related to Europe and America.

    This small device caused the concession between the two delegations and, thus, the first oil dollar bond in Japanese businesses was established. Moreover, the Arab bank delegation achieved one of their ambitions:

    The Arabs seemed content with the outcome in spite of their witnessing an event akin to an intense storm that shrouded the desert in darkness and then, dissipated.

The memories of that day are still vivid in my mind.


Japan understands the Arabs


    Japan is the only country that has suffered from the only atomic bomb attack in history and therefore deeply understands the tragedy of World War II. It is the only country in the world that can and should communicate about the threat of war and the significance of peace. It is more entitled to do so than any other country that merely exerts influence.

    Japan might have to lead all diplomatic affairs and promote international cooperation to prevent a possible war.

    From the perspective of the Muslim world, there are many large countries that share the negative heritage of colonization or war with Europe and America. Japan is the only economic power that does not share such history. Moreover, Muslim nations relate to Japan in the view that they have all been victimized by the West.

    While working as the head of Nikko, Beirut, I have frequently heard the voice, °»I want to know if it is only Japan that understands its significance.°…

    In the currently confused state of the international community, although it is the United States that is pioneering the change, Japan can play an important role. Now is the time when Japan should play its role in the international scenario.