Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumia Kishida met on Wednesday with President Shimon Peres, who praised Japan’s role in joint projects with Israel.Kishida is in the region to participate in the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit for the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, which is due to take place Thursday in Jericho.Peres expressed particular pleasure in welcoming Kishida because of the Japanese initiative in funding the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park, which is due to begin operations in the spring of 2014. Memoranda of understanding have been signed with 24 companies so far.Japan has funded infrastructure for the project, including the establishment of a solar power plant, the construction of an administration building that should be completed by this September, and a waste water treatment plant expected to become operational by March 2014.The Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, established as a Japanese initiative in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Jordan, is Japan’s contribution to the Palestinians’ coexistence with their neighbors.In expressing appreciation to Kishida, Peres recalled that he had personally flown to Japan to reach an agreement with the Japanese government.“At the time it looked far away, but this is one of the most successful and sophisticated programs,” he said, adding that “peace must have an economic side.”Peres said he was happy with the way the Japanese had handled the project, which he said was important both economically and culturally. “You can demonstrate that we’re not only talking, but doing,” he told Kishida.The president declared that his respect for the Japanese “has gone up tremendously,” not only because of the achievements in Jericho, but because of the way Japan recovered from the catastrophic earthquake it suffered in 2011.“I don’t know of any other people who would take it like Japan,” he said, praising the calm, constructive and courageous manner in which the eastern country had set out on the road to rehabilitation.Peres also voiced his appreciation for Japan’s participation in the efforts to prevent Iran from going nuclear and becoming a world center for terrorism.There are already enough bombs in the world, he said, adding that Japan had suffered more than any other country from being bombed.Reviewing Japan’s relations with the Middle East, he observed that Tokyo’s previous connections with the region had been through energy, “but now the map of energy is changing.” He noted that the United States has twice as much oil as the Middle East.The relationship should now turn to cooperative endeavors in science and technology, he said. “The problem of the Middle East is not energy, but peace,” he stated.Peres suggested that Japan and Israel could join forces in helping people find the path to peace by escaping poverty, unemployment and suffering.Kishida commented on Israel’s long relationship with Japan, and praised ambassadors from both countries for having done so much to strengthen the ties.He was particularly grateful for Israel’s assistance following the earthquake, especially the medical units the Israelis had sent in.“This touched the hearts of the people and strengthened the bond between us,” he said.Last year, Japan and Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.Kishida said he wanted the ties over the next 60 years to be even closer and more productive.Commenting that Israel was constantly in the spotlight internationally, he said the Middle East peace process was a central issue for the global community.From a personal standpoint, he said he had always wanted to visit Israel and was happy to be here now, in the immediate aftermath of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement last weekend that the peace negotiations would resume. Kishida took this as a sign of positive developments.Following the Thursday meeting in Jericho, Kishida will proceed to Jordan.