Before Oil: Japan and the Question of Israel/Palestine, 1917-1956


March 28, 2005

Before Oil: Japan and the Question of Israel/Palestine, 1917-1956
Before Oil: Japan and the Question of Israel/Palestine, 1917-1956

Before Oil: Japan and the Question of Israel/Palestine, 1917-1956

by John de Boer

“Israel and Japan are situated at opposite ends of Asia, but this is a fact which binds them together rather than separates them. The vast continent of Asia is their connecting link, and the consciousness of their Asian destiny is their common thought.”
David Ben-Gurion, 1 July 1952 [1]

Existing scholarship cannot explain what the then Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, was referring to when he expressed these words in response to Japan’s official recognition of Israel on 15 May 1952. The reason is simple. Japan’s policy toward the question of Israel/Palestine has, almost exclusively, been analyzed and understood along one line of reasoning: Japan’s oil dependence on Arab countries. Proponents of this approach to understanding Japan’s position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict cannot account for developments prior to the “Oil Shock” of 1973. According to their assessment, the Nikaido Statement issued by Japan in November 1973, which endorsed the Palestinian right to self-determination and supported the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 242, represented the first instance when Japan openly took a political stance on the question of Israel/Palestine.[2] The best that scholars such as Yasumasa Kuroda, Ikeda Akifumi, Katakura Kunio and Ben-Ami Shillony have to offer on the period preceding 1973 are conjectures characterizing Japan’s Middle East policy as “non-assertive,” “neutral,” and “normal.”[3]

The word “conjecture” is used because no serious study of Japan’s position on the question of Israel/Palestine before oil became a determining factor has been conducted. Considering that it was not until after the Suez crisis of 1956 when Japan started to become reliant on oil as a source of energy, available scholarship ignores the nature and content of Japan’s relations with Israel/Palestine over the first half of the twentieth century and cannot be considered definitive.[4]

As a consequence, very little is known about where Japan stood in relation to this conflict between the time the United Kingdom issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and attacked the Suez Canal along with France and Israel in 1956. This essay illuminates the nature of Japan’s position on the question of Israel/Palestine during this period and offers insight into Ben-Gurion’s allusion to “the consciousness of an Asian destiny” that linked Israel with Japan.

Between 1917 and 1956, Japan did not avoid taking a political stance on the question of Israel/Palestine. Until Japan’s defeat in 1945, its government endorsed the Zionist project and demonstrated a keen interest in learning from Zionist forms of settler colonialism for Japan’s own colonial projects in Korea and Manchuria. However, following Israel’s independence in 1948 and the increased identification of Israel as a colonial presence in anti-colonial Asia, Japan’s position shifted to support Palestinian self-determination in the hope that this would distance Japan from its own colonial association and eventually reposition Japan as a leading country in Asia. This analysis reveals that Japan’s posture toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not only a matter of oil but also reflective of a colonial link between Israel and Japan.

Japan, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and Zionist Settlement in Palestine

Japanese authorities sanctioned the idea of establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine shortly after the British announced the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Approval of the Zionist project came as early as December 1918 when Japan sent an unofficial statement of endorsement to E. S. Kadoorie, the representative of the Shanghai Zionist Association, via the French Embassy in Tokyo. The message expressed the Imperial government’s “pleasure of having learned of the advent desire of the Zionists to establish in Palestine a National Jewish Homeland,” and indicated that, “Japan will accord its sympathy to the realization of your [Zionist] aspirations.”[5] Explicit endorsement came in January 1919 when the Japanese ambassador to Great Britain, Chinda Sutemi, sent an official letter to Chaim Weizmann the president of the British Zionist Federation declaring in the name of the Emperor that, “the Japanese government gladly takes note of the Zionist aspiration to extend in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people and they look forward with a sympathetic interest to the realization of such desire upon the basis proposed.”[6]

Japan’s interest in supporting the Zionist cause in Palestine was not unrelated to Japan’s alliance with the British. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance, signed in 1902, represented the foundation of Japanese diplomacy until 1922. By sanctioning the British mandate and Zionist settlement in Palestine, Japan sought endorsement for its claims to former German colonies in East Asia and the Pacific that it occupied during World War I. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Japan recognized British policies in Palestine in return for British approval of Japanese control over the Shandong Peninsula in China. Chinda Sutemi, one of the delegates to Paris, was instrumental in making sure that the Treaty of Versailles had no provision for the return of former German concessions to China.[7]

Support for the Zionist project also existed among influential Japanese intellectuals including Uchimura Kanzo (1861-1930), Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933), Tokutomi Kenjiro (1868-1927) and Yanaihara Tadao (1893-1961). In his essay on the mandate system, Yanaihara defended the special protection given to the Jews in their quest for a national home based on his conviction that the Zionist case constituted a national problem deserving of a nation-state.

In the terms of the Mandate over Palestine, there is a special provision to secure (hogo) the creation of a national home for the Jewish people. Although … in practice this is an exception to the principle of equal opportunity for all nations and the open door policy, as Stoyanovski has argued, the purpose of the mandate system is to guide a people or a group that for various reasons has not been able to attain autonomy or independence. As such, securing the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people is in no way inconsistent with the mandate system outlined by the League of Nations.[8]

“The Zionist movement,” claimed Yanaihara, “is nothing more than an attempt to secure the right for Jews to migrate and colonize in order to establish a center for Jewish national culture.”[9]

An expert in colonial policy at Tokyo University, Yanaihara was interested in promoting Zionist forms of settler colonialism as a model for Japan to emulate.[10] This idea was made explicit in his article Shion Undo Ni Tsuite (On the Zionist Movement) published while he was professor of colonial policy in the Department of Economics at Tokyo University and advisor to the Japanese government.[11] As Japan’s settler colonial projects advanced with increasing vigor in Korea and Manchuria in the 1920s and 1930s, the Japanese government, and particularly the Manchukuo government, also demonstrated an interest in cooperative modes of agricultural settlement similar to those documented by scholars such as Yanaihara in Palestine. In some cases, specific references were made to the Zionist project. In 1936 for instance, the Chosen Sotokufu (Government General of Korea) published a research paper entitled, The Reasons Why Jewish Agricultural Emigration to Palestine Will Succeed. This report specifically referred to cooperative agricultural settlements as the “brightest example” behind the establishment of a Jewish national home.[12] A high-level report advising the Japanese government as it initiated plans for mass emigration to Manchuria in 1936 also included references to the case of Zionist settlement in Palestine with special mention of the ethnic conflict between Jews and Arabs as a scenario to avoid.[13]

That a number of influential Japanese intellectuals, policy makers and institutions referred specifically to Zionist forms of cooperative agricultural settlement as a model that Japanese should emulate is significant. This is because the connection illustrates the fact that certain Japanese interpreted the Zionist movement as a colonial enterprise that had parallels with, and/or practical application for, Japan’s colonial expansion on the continent.

Jewish Refugees in Shanghai and the Japanese Quid Pro Quo

Japanese interest in Zionism and the Jews peaked as thousands of Jewish refugees began to arrive in Japanese occupied Shanghai. By December of 1938, two thousand Jews had arrived and three thousand more were expected over the next several months. By 1940, Japanese occupied Manchuria was host to 17,000 Jewish refugees, most coming from Eastern Europe.

The Japanese government did not go as far as certain Japanese officials would have liked, which was to create a “new Jerusalem in Shanghai.”[14] However, they did adopt what Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, who served the pre-World War II Jewish congregation in Tokyo, called the Fugu Plan.

This Fugu Plan was framed by Yasue, Inuzuka and other sympathetic diplomats to utilize those Jewish refugees in Manchuria and Shanghai as a quid pro quo in return for favorable treatments accorded to them. Japanese official quarters expected American Jewry to throw all its influence on Japan’s side to eventually make U.S. Far Eastern policy more pro-Japanese or at least neutral, and if things went well, even to entice Jewish capital which was badly needed for the industrial development of Manchuria. [15]

Japanese notions that the Jews could somehow improve Japan’s standing in the West were based on very questionable stereotypes that emphasized a secret Jewish power source in Europe and America and particularly appears to have ignored Hitler’s policies of Jewish extermination and genocide. Notably, one of the main proponents of the Fugu Plan, Yasue Norhihiro, was responsible for translating The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into Japanese.[16]

Ultimately, the goal of creating an alliance with Zionists and Jews in order to legitimize Japan’s colonial expansion failed. Japan was unable to persuade Jews either to lobby for its cause in the West or to provide capital for its colonial projects in Manchuria despite its acceptance of Jewish refugees in China, Manchuria and Japan.

Asia and the Birth of Israel

On 15 May 1948, just six hours after the British High Commissioner left Palestine, Israel declared independence. Almost immediately, Israel was recognized by the United States and Guatemala. The Soviet Union, Canada, Poland, Uruguay, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia all followed suit shortly after. It was only a matter of time before most European states, such as Great Britain, offered recognition in addition to a number of Central and South American countries.[17] All Arab countries and the majority in Asia refrained from recognizing the Republic of Israel and when some Asian states did give recognition, they did so only after substantial delay.

In Asia, the legitimacy of Israel was in question. Unlike most European and American states, Asian countries took a strong line in opposing the United Nations Partition Plan of November 1947 (UNGA Resolution 181) with Pakistan’s representative to the UN, Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, leading the way.[18] Among the few Asian states with UN membership, only the Philippines voted in favor of the Partition Plan while India and Pakistan voted against it and the Republic of China abstained.[19] Their main reasons for opposing the plan was that it compromised the rights of the majority Arab population in Palestine and that an enforced solution would only lead to further bloodshed. This position starkly contrasted with the views held by most countries in Europe and the Americas, which adopted this plan as the preferred solution to the question of Palestine and the problem of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who were displaced in camps throughout Europe.

The greatest difference in perspective between the positions held by European-American and Asian nations such as Pakistan, India and China centered on the partition of Palestine. In essence, this was the question of whether a just and peaceful solution could be reached by physically separating Jews from Arabs in Palestine. Pakistan, India and China agreed on three points: (1) that no partition was necessary; (2) that no imposed solution would bring peace; and (3) that all forms of foreign domination contributed to exaceerbation of the conflict.[20] Prominent Indian independence leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru condemned the Partition Plan and Zionist policies claiming that, “the Zionists were trying to convert the Arab majority into a minority.”[21] Nehru insisted that the Zionists “were neglecting one not unimportant fact. … Palestine was not a wilderness or an empty, uninhabited place. It was already somebody else’s home.”[22] In this view, shared by many Asian governments, an independent Israel that excluded and expelled Palestinian Arabs from their land was clearly a colonial project.

For Israel, geographically located in the Middle East (West Asia), non-recognition by Asian states posed a serious obstacle to the prospects of its development as a prosperous and peaceful state. Israeli officials believed that they could survive with the backing of the United States, the USSR and most European countries. However, if Israel was to live in peace, normal relations with the rest of Asia were considered vital. Israeli officials early on recognized that, “whatever the shape of the Jewish State, its security position would be bad if it was to be at perpetual war with the whole of Asia.”[23]

Mutual Recognition between Israel and Japan

On 20 January 1952, three months before Japan regained independence following the U.S. occupation, Israel’s Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett (Shertok) proposed mutual recognition and the exchange of diplomatic missions with Japan. After several months of negotiations, the Japanese government concluded that there was “no reason to reject Israel’s request” and on 12 May 1952, the Japanese government informed the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it agreed to mutual recognition and would accept an Israeli Minister to Tokyo.[24]

This agreement constituted a breakthrough in Asia for Israel. Although, it had managed to gain recognition from several Asian states such as India, Burma, Ceylon and the People’s Republic of China by that time, it had yet to secure diplomatic relations with any of them. Japan’s decision to accept Israel’s proposal to establish full diplomatic relations opened the way for the establishment of Israel’s first diplomatic mission in Asia and potentially the first Asian legation (embassy) in Israel.

The accord with Japan was celebrated by the Israeli media as an important step in the development of Israel’s relations with Asia. The assessment was that Japan was “destined again to play a leading role” in Asia and that, “Japan today offers far greater possibilities than any other country in the Far East.”[25] The hope in Israel was that Japan would help break the “political siege” that Israel perceived had been erected around it by Asian and Arab countries.

By forging strong relations with Japan, Ben-Gurion envisioned Japan and Israel as leaders in Asia. In a global climate where the Far East was growing in importance and all signs pointed to Japan’s emergence as a leading player, Israel sought friendly relations in order to access Japanese markets, gain political favor, counter Asian-Arab solidarity and eventually play an important role in Asia.[26]

Foreign Ministry assessments assured Ben-Gurion that by 1952 Japan had been almost completely rehabilitated and was likely the third industrial power in the world after the United States and the USSR.[27] If those assessments were exaggerated, they were apt predictions of Japan’s growing economic might. In dealing with their Japanese counterparts, diplomats stressed a common Asian destiny with Japan insisting that Israel was “an Asiatic state, inhabited by Asiatic people who wished to work in harmony with the rest of Asia.”[28]

Despite Israel’s high hopes, it was three years before Japan reciprocated with a legation in Israel and when it did, it took the form of a non-resident minister to Tel Aviv. Prior to 1955, the opening of legations in Arab countries consistently claimed priority over doing so in Israel. According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry reports, the reason for an Arab preference in Japan was simple, “there was a substantial amount of trade with them [Arab states] and the weakening of British and French influence increas[ed] possibilities for Japanese business in those countries.”[29]

In all aspects of their post-independence relationship, Japan specifically requested that Israel give no undue publicity to their ties so as to “avoid the renewal of untimely protests from Arab Quarters.”[30] The value of Japan’s Trade with Arab countries (US $118,178,000) versus Japan’s trade with Israel ($546,000) during the same period may be indicative of the greater importance that Japan placed on the Arab countries at that time.[31]

In addition to the trade imbalance, Japan allegedly exported weapons to Arab states as well. Israeli diplomatic documents suggest transactions in ammunition, tear gas, rifles, rockets, rocket projectors, armored trucks and naval ships. The Japanese government never admitted having approved arms sales to Arab states, nevertheless, its hosting of a series of military missions from Arab countries and the issue of exporting weapons to the Middle East, particularly Syria, were taken up in the Japanese media.[32]

Although, Japanese arms production and exports remained under close scrutiny from U.S. authorities throughout the 1950’s, it appears U.S. approval was almost invariably forthcoming.[33] In reference to a Japanese transaction with the Syrians, Israeli diplomats went so far as to state that, “The State Department had given the O.K. even before the Japanese Government had asked for it and before the Syrians had placed any orders.”[34] Israeli reports clearly suggest that Japan sold weapons to the Arabs while rejecting Israel’s inquiries concerning the same.[35] Allusions to a common Asian destiny faded very quickly as Japanese and Israeli interests diverged.

Anti-Colonialism and the Asian-African Conference in Bandung

Japan’s distancing of itself from relations with Israel became pronounced on the occasion of the first Asian-African Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. For Japan, the Bandung Conference presented an opportunity to normalize its troubled relationship with former colonies in Asia. Japanese officials viewed the Conference as an occasion to shed their country’s identification, in Asian eyes, with colonialism. In his opening address to the Conference, Takasaki Tatsunosuke (head of Japan’s delegation and the government’s Minister of State) expressed the hope of the Japanese people to be welcomed as a member of the “Asian-African region.” Takasaki emphasized a “racial kinship among the Asian-African peoples” and categorized Japan as one of the Asiatic nations whose “destiny [was] identical with that of Asia.”[36]

Barred from attending, Israel sought to persuade countries such as Burma and Japan to do all they could to prevent the conference from turning into a platform for anti-Israel sentiment. As early as January 1955, Japanese officials were approached by their Israeli counterparts with the request that the Japanese delegation act to prevent the Arabs from using the conference as a forum for anti-Israel agitation.[37]

One of the main avenues through which Israel approached Japan was through the Japan Socialist Party (JSP). Once referred to by Ben-Ami Shillony as Israel’s closest ally in Japan, officials from Israel’s ruling socialist party, Mapai, called on the JSP to “do everything in its power to mobilize the Socialist Asian International and try to counter Arab propaganda before the next Asian-African Bloc Conference.”[38] In Japan, Israeli diplomats met with high level JSP leaders with the purpose of enlisting their help to extinguish Israel’s image as the extension of Western imperialism in the region. On several occasions, Japanese socialists responded positively based upon their view that there were only three countries in Asia where socialism was established as a real force: Burma, Israel and Japan. Proponents of the Mapai-JSP partnership stressed that, “it is for the socialist parties of these three countries to take the lead and cooperate closely in fostering socialism in Asia.”[39] Insiders from the JSP went so far as to agree to lobby the Liberal Democratic Party-dominated Japanese delegation to the Asian-African Conference to push for Israel’s inclusion.[40]

However, Japan’s priority, as outlined in an article in the Asahi Shinbun, was to “make clear its sense of regret and responsibility for the crimes that Japan had committed in Asia… and express that Japan’s economic development could not come without close cooperation with Asian states.” The piece went on to insist that, “Japan must convince Asian and African states that Japan is in the process of being reborn as a peaceful nation-state.”[41] The official statement made by Takasaki was in line with these views. “Japan, having caused so much suffering to other nations and almost completely ruined herself in the recent war, feels doubly the horrors of war and the imperative need of an enduring peace. For Japan, now on the road of reconstruction and recovery with the generous help and cooperation of other countries, peace means everything. Indeed, her very survival depends on peace.” Takasaki called on the Asian-African countries to promote cooperation in economic, social and cultural fields so as to achieve prosperity.[42] Fearing that too active a role in political discussions might be badly received, Japan refrained from taking controversial positions. Defending Israel, which was isolated in Asia and regarded as the spearhead of colonialism, ran counter to these objectives.

Palestine was not a central pre-occupation for most states attending the Conference, yet the issue was taken up as the first agenda item of the Political Committee under the heading of “Human Rights and Self-determination.” The result was an overwhelming consensus that the right of Palestinians to independence should be supported and that all appropriate UN resolutions should be implemented without delay. 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.”[43] The only Asian country expressing reservations was Burma, which stated that it could not support the motion due to its relations with Israel. In contrast, Japan voted in favor of the resolution.

The implication of this resolution for Israel was a united Asian-African front on the question of Palestine. Palestinian Arabs were characterized as a population subjugated to outside domination and exploitation and thereby denied the full enjoyment of fundamental human rights. In Japan, Palestinian self-determination was increasingly framed in the context of anti-colonialism. Particularly enamored with Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser’s outspoken critique of the situations in Palestine and North Africa, the Japanese media began speaking of an “Arab awakening” against foreign domination and colonial control.[44]

Israel’s participation in the Tripartite attack on Egypt in 1956 pushed Japan and Israel farther apart and in particular soured relations between Mapai and the JSP. Japanese socialists interpreted Israel’s attack and its subsequent occupation of Gaza and Egyptian territory as foreign domination and as collaboration in one of the last vestiges of colonialist control in Egypt, the Suez Canal Company. The extent to which Israel’s standing among Japanese socialists had deteriorated was most clearly demonstrated in the “Fukuoka Resolution” adopted by the JSP in January 1957. This resolution called for Israel’s expulsion from the Asian Socialist Conference and the Socialist International representing the most severe criticism of Israel’s governing socialist party yet. Israeli diplomats eventually managed to convince the JSP not to present the Fukuoka Resolution to the Asian Socialist Conference and the Socialist International, but the deterioration of the relationship between the JSP and Mapai further isolated Israel in Asia and strengthened its image as a colonial presence on the continent.


This essay has highlighted the fact that Japanese have been politically engaged in the Israel/Palestinian conflict since its inception. Between 1917-1945, the Japanese government was highly supportive of the Zionist project and expressed interest in borrowing from Zionist systems of colonial expansion and exclusion to secure permanent colonial settlements in East Asia. The study also outlined Japan’s policy, which sought to take advantage of Jewish distress by accepting refugees from Eastern Europe as a quid pro quo for favors in the West.

This study has presented a challenge to sweeping views that regarded Japan in the years 1952-56 was a “neutral” party or a nation whose interests were dictated by its dependence on Middle Eastern oil (see note 4). In fact, even before oil became a factor, Japan sought to distance itself from an Israel that was perceived as a colonial presence in post-colonial Asia. Despite early mutual recognition, close contacts with Israel came to be perceived as a liability to Japan’s plans for reconstruction, for repairing damaged relations with Asia, and for rapid economic growth.[45]

Israel originally conceptualized its relations with Japan as a key element in its strategy for integration into Asia. The assessment of the main foreign policy decision makers such as Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett and Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Walter Eytan was that Asia was growing in importance in world politics and that Japan would emerge as the dominant power and a moderate force in the region. However, Israel’s disregard for Palestinian self-determination coupled with its collaboration in the Tripartite attack against Egypt consolidated Israel’s image in Asia, including Japan, as a destabilizing state. The question of Israel/Palestine even came to be regarded as a symbol of colonialism among JSP leaders. This association heightened the Japanese government’s hesitancy toward being openly associated with Israel and reinforced Israel’s isolation in the region.

John de Boer is a Japan Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stanford Institute for International Studies, a lecturer at Stanford’s Department of History and a research associate at the Center for Global Communications, International University of Japan. He obtained his PhD. from Tokyo University in Middle East and Japanese area studies, with a concentration on Japan’s historical involvement in the question of Israel/Palestine. Posted March 5, 2005.


[1] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “Message from Mr. David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister of Israel,”1 July 1952, Orig.: 200/4076, File 290/190.
[2] Japan issued this statement in order to get its name removed from the list of oil embargoed countries.
[3] Ikeda Akifumi claimed that relations prior to 1973 were “no more than just normal.” See Akifumi Ikeda, “Japan’s Relations with Israel,” in Kaoru Sugihara and J. A. Allan, Japan in the Contemporary Middle East, (London: Routledge, 1993), 156. Japan’s former Ambassador to Iraq, Katakura Kunio, explained that until the oil shock Japan’s Middle East policy was “objectively speaking neutral and not pro-Arab.” See Katakura Kunio, “Narrow Options for a Pro-Arab Shift: Japan’s response to the Arab oil strategy in 1973,” AJAMES, No. 1, (1986), 107. In his article on Japan-Israel relations Ben-Ami Shillony argued that, “until 1967, Japan maintained a strict neutrality in the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Taken from Ben-Ami Shillony, “Japan and Israel: the relationship that withstood pressures,” Middle East Review, (Winter 1985), 17-18. Yasumasa Kuroda portrayed the relationship between Japan and the Middle East as one determined by, “Japan’s general tendency … to avoid taking sides.” See Yasumasa Kuroda, “Japan and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” in Edward J. Lincoln (ed.), Japan and the Middle East, (Washington, D.C.: The Middle East Institute, 1990), 43-44 and Yasumasa Kuroda, “The oil crisis and Japan’s new Middle East Policy, 1973,” AJAMES, No. 1, 1986, 150-187. Others taking a similar approach include William R. Nester, Japan and the Third World: Patterns, Power, Prospects, (Houndmills, Hampshire and New York: Macmillan, 1992), 207; Alan Dowty, “Japan and the Middle East: Signs of Change,” MERIA, Vol. 4, No. 4, (December 2000); Kurt W. Radtke, “Japan-Israel Relations in the 1980s,” Asian Survey, Vol. XXVIII, No. 5, (May 1988), 527 and Willy Stern, “Japan: A willing participant in the Arab boycott of Israel,” Middle East Review, (Fall 1988), 48.
[4] Prior to this Japan consumed coal for the majority of its energy needs. For example, in 1953 oil accounted for only twenty-three percent of Japan’s total energy consumption. Although, Japan’s shift to oil began around 1954, the Japanese government continued to restrict oil consumption to protect the coal industry until the early 1960s. Manabu Shimizu also confirms this in, “Japan’s Middle East Policy,” Japan Quarterly, (October-December 1988), 383. Also see Kaoru Sugihara, “Japan, the Middle East and the World Economy: A note on the oil triangle,” in Kaoru Sugihara and J. A. Allan (eds.), Japan in the Contemporary Middle East, (New Jersey: Routledge, 1993), 4.
[5] See Naoki Maruyama, “Japan’s Response to the Zionist Movement in the 1920s,” Bulletin of the Graduate School of International Relations, No. 2 (December 1984), 29.
[6] World Zionist Organization, Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem, Copy Z4/2039.
[7] For more on the Paris Peace Conference see, Mark. R. Peattie, “The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945,” in Peter Duus (ed.), The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 228. Also see Barbara J. Brooks, Japan’s Imperial Diplomacy: Consuls, Treaty Ports, and War in China 1895-1938, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000), 31.
[8] Yanaihara Tadao, Yanaihara Tadao Zenshu, Vol. 4, 184, edited by Nambara Shigeru (Tokyo, Japan: Iwanami Shoten 1965). From here on in YTZ. The reference to Jacob J. Stoyanovski is from his work The Mandate for Palestine: a contribution to the theory and practice of international mandates,” (London, U.K.: Longmans Green, 1928), 42-3.
[9] Yanaihara Tadao, YTZ, Vol. 23, 596-597.
[10] For a discussion of Yanaihara’s endorsement of Zionist settlement see John de Boer, “In Promotion of Colonialism: Yanaihara Tadao’s Rendering of Zionist Colonial Settlements,” Paper Presented at the Western Conference of the Association of Asian Studies, (Panel 24, 1 October 2004). Yanaihara published excerpts of his notes on his trip to Palestine, which are reproduced in Volume 26 of YTZ, 721-31.
[11] Yanaihara Tadao, “Yudaya Mondai” in Yanaihara Tadao, Nihon Heiwaron Taikei: Yanaihara Tadao, (Tokyo, Japan: Nihon Tosho Center, 1993), 269-77. Also see Volume 1 of his complete works, Yanaihara Tadao Zenshu. According to Usuki Akira, this essay represented the first Japanese academic analysis of the Zionist movement. See Usuki Akira, “Jerusalem in the Mind of the Japanese: Two Japanese Christian Intellectuals on Ottoman and British Palestine” Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (2004), 40.
[12] Chosen Sotokufu Chosa Shiryo 43, “Palesuchina ni oite Yudayajin Nogyo Imin no Seiko shitsutsu aru Riyu,” (1936) as quoted in Oiwakawa Kazumasa, Gendai Isuraeru no Shakai Keizai Kozo: Paresuchina ni Okeru Yudayajin nyushokumura no kenkyu, (Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppan, 1983), 18, 27.
[13] See Nihon Gakujutsu Shinko-Kai Gakujutsu-bu Dai-2 Tokubetsu Iinkai, Manshu Imin Mondai to Jisseki Chosa, (Tokyo, December 1936), 41.
[14] Utsunomiya, Yudaya Mondai to Nihon, 401.
[15] The name of the plan reflects the anti-Semitic attitude of the Japanese. It refers to the poisonous blowfish, which if not prepared properly, is dangerous and could kill. Tetsu Kohno, “Debates on the Jewish Question in Japan,” Hosei University Faculty of Liberal Arts, Proceedings No. 46 (1983), 15. Colonel Yasue Norihiro was the Japanese Imperial Army expert on Jewish Affairs.
[16] Yasue Norihiro wrote under the pen name Ho Koshi when he translated the Protocols of Zion into Japanese. On the second page of his book, Inuzuka Koreshige (pen name Utsunomiya Kiyo), head of Naval Advisory Board on Jewish Affairs, Imperial Navy of Japan, wrote, “the holy war in which Japan is engaged has radically shifted from a military battle to a battle of all fronts. We have come to a point where the main focus of this battle of all fronts has to be based on an ideological battle…for Eastern thought is not represented whatsoever in the West.” He continued claiming that, “the source of Western power relies on the international secret power of the Jews…and we will only reach the glory of our objective after we have won the ideological battle.” Inuzuka’s policy sought to take advantage of Jewish economic, political and media connections in the West. “European and American power,” stated Inuzuka, “is dependent on a secret power source, that is the power of the international Jews. … In order to win the ideological war, we need their persuasive power.” See Utsunomiya, Kiyo, Yudaya Mondai to Nihon, (Tokyo, Japan: Naigaisho Shuppan, 1939), 2-3.
[17] Great Britain recognized Israel in January 1949.
[18] According to Jewish sources, Khan was regarded by many as the most formidable delegate representing the Palestinian cause. World Zionist Organization, Central Zionist Archives, “M. Comay [New York] to B. Gering,” 3 December 1947, Orig.: 93.03/3266/15.
[19] Thailand was absent during the voting.
[20] See United Nations General Assembly, “Discussions on the Question of Palestine,” A/286, 3 April 1947; UNGA, “Discussions on the Question of Palestine,” A/287, 21 April 1947; See United Nations General Assembly, “70 Plenary Meeting Question of Palestine,” A/2, 1 May 1947; United Nations General Assembly, “71 Plenary Meeting Question of Palestine,” A/2, 1 May 1947; United Nations General Assembly, “75 Plenary Meeting Question of Palestine,” A/2, 5 May 1947 and United Nations General Assembly, “79 Plenary Meeting Question of Palestine,” A/2, 15 May 1947.
[21] G. H. Jansen, Zionism, Israel and Asian Nationalism, (Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1971), 178, 182 as quoted in Edward W. Said, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Janet Abu-Lughod, Muhammed Hallaj and Elia Zureik, “A Profile of the Palestinian People,” in Edward W. Said and Christopher Hitchens (eds), Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestine Question, (London: Verso, 1988), 239.
[22] G. H. Jansen, Zionism, Israel and Asian Nationalism, 178, 182 as quoted in Edward W. Said, et al, Blaming the Victims, 239.
[23] World Zionist Organization, Central Zionist Archives, “M. Fischer [Paris] to M. Shertok [New York], E. Epstein [Washington], H. Berman [Jerusalem], I. J. Linton [New York],” 20 January 1948, 93.03/128/10. Moshe Shertok later changed his name to Moshe Sharett and became Israel’s first Minister for Foreign Affairs, H. Berman (Haim Raday) later Counselor for the Israeli Delegation to the UN, Ivor Joseph Linton was later Consul General of Israel in London and Minister to Japan.
[24] Minister is the equivalent of an Ambassador and a legation corresponds to an Embassy. The agreement was published on 15 May 1952 in order to coincide with the anniversary of Israel’s independence. Gaimusho Archives, “Isuraeru to no Koukou Kakuritsu Kankei,” European and American Affairs Bureau, 1 May 1952, File: A’0126, 216/8.
[25] “Israel to Name Minister to Tokyo,” Jerusalem Post, 25 May 1952.
[26] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “Memorandum: Y. Shimoni [Tel Aviv] to W. Eytan,” 11, January 1950.
[27] This comment was made by J. I. Linton the first Israeli Minister to Japan in 1952. State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “Undated and Unnamed note.” 159/777/5.
[28] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. I. Linton to W. Eytan,” date unknown, Orig.: 159/777/5.
[29] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. I. Linton [Tokyo] to M. Sharett [Jerusalem],” 20 January 1954, Copy: T/200/1209.
[30] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. I. Linton [Tokyo] to M. Fischer [Ankara],” 29 July 1955, Copy:T/200/3650.
[31] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. O. Ronall [Tokyo] to W. Eytan [Tel Aviv],” 10 April 1955, Copy: T/233/3154. According to Ronall this data came from the Bank of Japan.
[32] For Egypt’s military mission to Japan see, “Ejiputo Rikugun Gikan Ikou Rainichi,” Asahi Shinbun, 25 June 1956. For exports to Syria see “Funso Nai Kuni Nara Yoi,” Asahi Shinbun, 20 April 1956 and “Sangiin wa Shinchou ni Bangi Seyo,” Asahi Shinbun, 22 April 1956.
[33] Under the Japanese Military Secrets Bill and the Mutual Security Agreement (MSA) with the US, Japan was required to gain permission from the U.S. prior to selling weapons that were under a U.S. patent. State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. O. Ronall [Tokyo] to J. Horam [Jerusalem],” 3 August 1954, Copy: T/233/1840.
[34] The likely deal was the order placed by Syria to Japanese manufactures regarding the purchasing of rockets and rocket launchers in April 1956. The Asahi Shinbun took up this issue on 21 April and quoted the US as giving explicit approval that was limited to one condition only. Namely that “the Japanese do not export more rockets and rocket launchers than the Syrians need.” See “Bei no sansei wa jyouken zuke,” Asahi Shinbun, 21 April 1956. Also see State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. I. Linton [Tokyo] to D. Lewin [Jerusalem],” 3 July 1956, Copy: T/320/4821.
[35] Information on Japanese arms exports to Arab countries is based on documents that were probably leaked by someone at the US embassy in Japan. Israeli reports note that they were intercepted from the US economic intelligence branch at the US embassy in Tokyo. State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “Economic Intelligence Branch, US Embassy [Tokyo] to J. O. Ronall [Tokyo],” 4 June 1954. Also see State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “A. Dagan [Tokyo] to D. Lewin [Jerusalem],” 21 October 1955, Original: T/320/4160 and State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. I. Linton [Tokyo] to D. Lewin [Jerusalem],” 7 December 1955, Copy: T/444/488.
[36] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, Asia-Africa Speaks from Bandung, 1955, 87-89.
[37] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “J. I. Linton [Tokyo] to W. Eytan [Jerusalem],” 14 January 1955, Copy: T/200/3043.
[38] Ben-Ami Shillony, “Japan and Israel: The relationship that withstood pressures,” Middle East Review, (Winter 1985), 4 and State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “A. Dagan [Tokyo] to D. Lewin [Jerusalem],” 18 November 1955, Copy: T/207/4656.
[39] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “A. Dagan [Tokyo] to D. Lewin [Jerusalem],” 15 December 1955, Copy: T/207/4337.
[40] State of Israel, Israel State Archives, “A. Dagan [Tokyo] to D. Lewin [Jerusalem],” 5 January 1956, T/207/4411.
[41] See “Bandung Kaigi ni Nozomu,” Asahi Shinbun, 18 April 1955.
[42] Gaimusho Archives, “Bandung Heiwa Sengen”, April 1955, File: B’0049, 670/14/0304.
[43] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, Asia-Africa Speaks from Bandung, 1955, 166.
[44] See “Magari Kado ni kita Sekai: Arabu no yoake,” Asahi Shinbun, 20 December 1955.
[45] To my knowledge, the United States was not an important factor in Japan’s policies pertaining to Israel/Palestine at this stage. In fact, eager to gain a foothold in oil producing Arab states and to discourage communism in the region, at this time the U.S. did not emphasize a pro-Israeli position.

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Volume 3 | Issue 3

Article ID 2159

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