Just as a nuclear North Korea is a danger and threat to Japan, so, too, is the Iranian nuclear program a danger and threat to Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said before a meeting in Tokyo Monday with his Japanese counterpart.
“Israel and Japan face common challenges,” Netanyahu said, standing alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“First among them is the threat posed by rogue states arming themselves with nuclear weapons,” he said. “You have called North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles a ‘clear and present danger,’ and I wholeheartedly share that assessment.
Those same words – ‘clear and present danger’ – certainly apply to the Iranian nuclear program as well.”
Like North Korea before it, Netanyahu said, Iran wants to keep its military nuclear capabilities, while easing the world’s sanctions against it.
“We cannot let the Ayatollahs win,” he said. “We cannot enable the world’s foremost terror states to get the capability to make nuclear weapons. That would be a grave danger to the peace of the world and we must not allow it to happen.”
Netanyahu, on the first full work day of his five-day trip to Japan, focused in various meetings on two primary issues: Iran and greater economic cooperation.
During a meeting with members of the Israel Japan Parliamentary Friendship League earlier in the day, Netanyahu said that just as Iran and North Korea cooperate, so, too, should Israel and Japan cooperate.
“There is a common bond between us,” said Netanyahu.
“We’re both democratic, progressive, technological societies.
You face North Korea, which is a rogue regime with nuclear weapons. We face the possibility of Iran, which is a rogue regime that wants to have nuclear weapons. They’re cooperating between them, and we should cooperate between us.”
Sources in Netanyahu’s entourage said that he “clicked” with his Japanese counterpart during meetings that went on for some two-and-a-half hours.
“I am determined, together with Prime Minister Netanyahu, to make further efforts to strengthen Japan-Israel relations, so that the potentials are fully materialized,” Abe was quoted as saying in The Japan Times.
Japan, according to an economic adviser to Netanyahu, is badly underrepresented in Israel, in comparison with others such as the US, the EU countries, China and South Korea. The reason, according to the adviser, is that there seems to be a lingering suspicion among Japanese companies of the impact of the Arab boycott on them if they do business with Israel.
Earlier in the day Netanyahu met with the corporate leadership of Panasonic.
“Japan was until recently the last developed country without a strong presence in Israel, and that is changing,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Netanyahu told the chairman of Panasonic that the Arab boycott “is no longer, it does not exist, especially not after the Arab Spring.”
In addition, Netanyahu said, all of Japan’s competitors have a strong presence in Israel.
He said that Japan is large; Israel is small and not competition.
“But we can be your partners,” he said. “We are turning east, and we want you also to turn in the direction of Israel. Your technological cake is worth more if it is topped with an Israeli cherry.”
Netanyahu said during the meeting there was one area in particular where Israel excels: cybersecurity.
“There is one area that transcends everything and affects everything, and this is the question of cybersecurity,” Netanyahu said during that meeting with the Panasonic executives.
“All the systems that I saw here are computerized systems; they’re all vulnerable.”
He said that cybersecurity was a “growing need and a central need for your businesses.
This is something Israel is developing by leaps and bounds on a global scale, and we are open to participation not only with governments but also with companies.”
While Netanyahu was meeting with his counterpart, his wife, Sara, met with Abe’s wife, Akie. The two women, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, discussed commonalities between the two countries, which are both ancient cultures now on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.