Khalil Shikaki

With a population of 126 million and GDP at $5.4 trillion, Japan’s economy is the third largest in the world after the US and China. The following description highlight the main turning points in Palestinian-Japanese relations during the past 50 years. But it begins with a short introduction that describes Japan’s main interests in the Middle East and its earlier positions regarding Palestine and the Zionist designs. 


In the early 20th Century, the Anglo-Japanese alliance (1902-1923) left its impact on Japan’s position regarding vital Palestinian developments.  Japan sided with the idea of establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine shortly after the British announced the Balfour Declaration in 1917. The Japanese government also endorsed the British mandate at the League of Nations, which opened the way for Jewish emigration and settlement. Between 1917-1945, the Japanese government was supportive of the Zionist project.

In the post-World War II period, Japan’s interests in the Middle East were mostly economic but its alliance with the US added an important political consideration. Moreover, Japan’s post-war international and regional standing and its domestic changes led to greater focus on cooperation with the UN and other Asian countries. These dynamics led Japan in 1952 to recognize the state of Israel. But the first Asian-African Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955, presented an opportunity for Japan to normalize its relationship with its neighbors. The conference gave an overwhelming consensus to the rights of the Palestinians and the implementation of all appropriate UN resolutions.  In the final communiqué, the resolution read, "In view of existing tension in the Middle East, caused by the situation in Palestine and the danger of that tension to world peace, the Asian-African Conference declared its support of the rights of the Arab people of Palestine and called for the implementation of the United Nations Resolutions on Palestine and the achievement of the peaceful settlement of the Palestine question." Japan voted in favor of the resolution..Full Report