Japanese foreign minister to meet Iranian foreign minister, discuss Iran’s nuclear issue

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will meet his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on November 9 in Tehran, the capital of Iran. The meeting will focus on the efforts of Mr. Kishida, as a foreign minister from Hiroshima, to urge Iran to take action and clear itself of suspicions of nuclear weapons development and whether their discussion can produce a positive result.

This will be the first visit to Iran in four years by a foreign minister from Japan. Since Mr. Zarif is the nation's top negotiator on nuclear issues, the meeting’s main theme will be the nuclear problem. After their meeting on the afternoon of November 9 (the evening of November 9 in Japan), they will hold a joint press conference.

Since its installment last August, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani has been seeking to resolve this issue, pursuing consultations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and six nations, including some European nations and the United States. In light of the fact that working-level talks involving Iran and these six nations will be held in Geneva, Switzerland on November 7 and 8, immediately prior to the ministerial meeting, an official of the foreign ministry said that the meeting will be held in a favorable environment.

Japan has traditionally maintained cordial relations with Iran. In addition, Mr. Kishida served as secretary general of the Iran-Japan Parliamentary Friendship League until he assumed the post of foreign minister in December last year.

Mr. Kishida hopes to take advantage of this good timing and good relationship so that Japan, as the nation that suffered the atomic bombings, will be able to play a leading role in efforts to advance toward a world without nuclear weapons. He is also hoping to use this opportunity to present the “positive pacifism” promoted by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.


Iran’s nuclear issue
In 2002, Iranian dissidents living in the United States revealed that the nation had been pursuing a nuclear development program over the past 18 years. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pointed to Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons development in 2011. Six-nation talks, which included the United States and some European nations, could not close the rift between the two sides. The six nations called on Iran to stop producing uranium enriched up to 20 percent, which could be diverted to military use. In turn, Iran demanded that the nation’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy be respected. In September 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama held a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking dialogue. Expectations for progress in the negotiations are high.

(Originally published on November 8, 2013)