Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tokyo in December. Photo: POOL/AFP/File

Abe cancels visit to Middle East amid tensions


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to cancel a trip to the Middle East scheduled for Jan 12-15 after Iran attacked bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq overnight.

Abe had planned to visit Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

The U.S. assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani last week has raised fears of an all-out conflict, with President Donald Trump threatening "major retaliation" if Tehran makes good on a pledge to avenge the killing.

Abe has in recent months tried to carve out a role as mediator between Japan's U.S. ally and Iran, with which Tokyo has longstanding ties.

Tokyo and Tehran have maintained diplomatic relations for decades, even through the crisis with the West sparked by Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and subsequent frictions over its nuclear program.

In June, as tensions rose over Trump's decision to withdraw from a nuclear deal with Tehran, Abe visited Iran for talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

But his visit coincided with a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, off the Iranian coast, which again sent tensions in the Gulf soaring.

And Khamenei categorically ruled out talks with Trump despite Abe's efforts to smooth a path.

Abe later met Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, and in December welcomed the Iranian leader to Japan -- the first visit by an Iranian head of state in two decades.

Japan has walked a fine line in balancing its key alliance with Washington and its longstanding relations and interests with Iran.

It was formerly a major buyer of Iranian crude but stopped purchases to comply with U.S. sanctions imposed after Washington unilaterally quit the nuclear deal in May 2018.

© 2020 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Why in the world is Abe going to THAT part of the world, at this particular time, when there is little if anything he can do? He is not a statesman, nor a seasoned diplomat, has little to offer to them, as they dont need Japan's money?

Right...he is worried about what's going to happen with imports of oil from Iran if things go hot!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

The death of Soleimani has seen hundreds of thousands to a million people on the streets, mourning his death!

Here was a man who took the fight to ISIS and religious extremists.

Abe should be in the US talking to Trump, not going to Iran....

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Absolutely wrong time for Abe, but he could be awarded Nobel Peece Prize if he can talk like others.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I wonder if he will be going to Lebanon?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Abe should be in the US talking to Trump, not going to Iran....

Where does it mention that he is going to Iran?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates next week as regional tensions spike after the US assassination of a top Iranian general.

Helps to actually READ articles!

Not to mention that there is NOTHING Abe can do with Trump, neither have the brains to listen!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Abe will visit Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates

Why have Japan, Inc kept the country so dependent on burning such huge amounts of oil, gas and coal. What are Japan, Inc doing to reduce their dependency and the amounts of oil, gas and coal burnt.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Japan must stay away from that Hellish Part of the World. Japan has enough with NK.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It seems Japan just try to make good relationships with these countries as Japanese oil tankers go through there. Visits and talks are more important to maintain good relationships.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Trump war has begun, with launch of ICBM by Iran

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

And do what? He's trump's caddie so what's there to talk about?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Oil is Japan's largest fossil fuel import at 40%. World's largest importer of LNG. Needs to do more with renewable energies. Follow the example by Britain. Last year generated more power from renewable energy than fossil fuels.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Don't think that's a good idea after what has just unfolded. I mean, they know Abe and Trump are buddies so...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Trump is at war, Iran launch 12 ICBM at US base in Iraq, and declared war on war on anybody, that host US bases

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Can see an urge coming on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He cancelled the visit, update the news @moderator.


Can see an urge coming on.

I bet, we'll see an urge within today :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think it was really a big insult to Japan and Mr.Abe from Donald Trump! The above picture was not long ago, three weeks ago when President Rouhani was visiting Japan for invitation from Mr Abe! Both men were sincerely trying to bring back the fallen 2015 nuclear accord but Donald Trump is doing the otherwise, he was planning to assassinate General Soleimani! the plot was no co-incidence but a long time planning ! So what is there left to discuss about? Abe-san but be shocked at the moment he learned the death of General Soleimani, like a stab in his back by Donald Trump!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Shinzo is too late to do anything...again!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I wonder if he will be going to Lebanon?

Funny & irony if he does.

People around the world is focused on the US-Iran conflict (& the wider ME issues), but he'd be shoving his nose there for japan's crappy justice system.

I really hope the next Japan PM can revamp their justice system.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Funny & irony if he does.

Read the title of the article NOW! lol!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He should go and use his great diplomatic and negotiating skills to stop the conflict in all these countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The one he said he was going to anyway despite the tensions? Why not go? Surely the man who wants to put Japanese lives in harm's way by sending the SDF across the oceans has no fears about going to the ME.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Fear of planes being hit I would be.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The best Prime minister I know!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wrong is Wrong, No one with common sense can take sides with a man that kills in the name of peace.Would anyone ???.Pls raise yr hands.............................

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

YrralToday 08:51 am JST

Trump war has begun, with launch of ICBM by Iran

YrralToday 09:51 am JST

Trump is at war, Iran launch 12 ICBM at US base in Iraq, and declared war on war on anybody, that host US bases

Iran does not have ICBMs. Iran has short and medium range as well as cruise missiles which put maximum range at 2000km capable of hitting Eastern Europe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smart choice don't want your plane to get shot down like the Ukrainian passenger plane that iran hit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jason, that plan had mechanical problems

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

OK for the SDF to go, but Abe doesn't want to risk it.

Real bravery that. (Sarcasm)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why ???, abe is trump best friend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites