What is Sori going to the Middle East? Feb 20 12:41
On that day, Prime Minister Abe was in the Middle East.
The U.S. killed a commander in Iran, attacked a missile on Iran, and shot down the Ukrainian plane. Why did you decide to go at that timing?
And what was the result?
(Nobuyuki Hanaoka, political reporter)
Beach and black clothes
January wrapped in sunlight.
The capital city of Oman, Muscat, is warm and short-sleeved tourists can be seen on the beach.
Outside the hotel in between the interviews, a long stretch of beach and lush Gulf of Oman stretched beyond the bright green grass.
Looking at the vague scenery, a group of blackish bears came from the hotel that looked like beaches.
Prime Minister Abe is surrounded by SPs. People who noticed shoot with smartphone.
Prime Minister Abe walked for a long time on the beach, wearing leather shoes.
Did you want to look directly at the Gulf of Oman, or was it just a refreshment? What is certain is that soon a SDF escort ship will arrive in that sea.
Assassin missiles growing tension
Immediately after the start of preparations for this report, shocking news came in.
"U.S.A. kills Iran Revolutionary Defense Commander"
Immediately after hearing the news that Iran had declared retaliation, I was worried about great fears.
News on the morning of January 8 circulated around the world that Iran had attacked a U.S. military base in Iraq with a missile.
"It may be canceled again," said such feeling. The reason for "again" was that a visit to India in December had been postponed just before due to local security deterioration.
Visit is postponed! ?
After a while, they are notified that another company has issued a postponement of the "Middle East Postponement".
At the time of this turbulent timing, he replied to himself while he was relieved.
However, the response from the interviewee was "I have not heard that the decision has been postponed."
What I learned later was that some officials warned that security was a concern, but that Prime Minister Abe's thinking had not changed.
On the other hand, President Trump fluttered the use of force on Twitter before the missile attack by Iran, and it could be said that an immediate situation could occur.
Hours after the attack, news came that a Ukrainian airliner had crashed in Iran. Iran claims it was a technical trouble, but it's too weird.
"The United States does not want to use military power"
The following day, President Trump's speech was surprisingly restraining.
The next day, the Prime Minister's visit to the Middle East was officially announced on the 10th.
Why did you show a strong commitment to visiting the Middle East?
Looking back at the memorandum of the day, a senior government official stated two reasons.
"Sure, there is a safety risk. However, Japan, which relies on the Middle East for 90% of its crude oil, is a lifeline in this region. large"
"The Self-Defense Forces dispatch has been carefully explained to Iran on the date and time of President Lohani's arrival. It is necessary to explain to the opposing Saudis and the UAE before dispatching them and balance them."
It is new to remember that a tanker operated by a Japanese shipping company was attacked while the Prime Minister visited Iran as the Japanese Prime Minister for the first time in 41 years last June.
However, SDF activities in the Middle East were on patrol aircraft from late January and escorts from late February. Did the assurance of a stable supply of oil and the dispatch of the SDF helped decide on a visit to the Middle East?
Take a detour to the Middle East
Meanwhile, looking at the announced itinerary, I thought, "What?"
According to the preliminary interview, the departure time should have been around noon, but it hastened to 9:30 am. On the other hand, the arrival time remains the same.
Soon, one of the interviewees gave me a seed.
"It's a detour. I'm going around the Persian Gulf just in case, so my departure hastened."
Does the government recognize that there are risks?
January 11 on the day of departure.
Immediately after we got on the government aircraft, we received a shocking message from the synchronization at the Dubai branch.
"King Oman has died"
Oman is the last country to visit.
Talks with the sick king were not scheduled, but if the king died, it would be a big deal for the country. Can I meet with the key people even at such a timing?
Despite anxiety, the special aircraft took off from Haneda Airport.
New government aircraft launched last year can use Wi-Fi on board. After taking off, a breaking news was received.
"Iranian Ukrainian plane is allowed to shoot down"
After all, was that so?
However, the fact that such big news jumps into the air as soon as you get on an airplane may imply that this overseas business trip is not easy.
I fell asleep praying for safety during the flight.
Yamaba talks with "that celebrity"
Government aircraft continued to fly without incident, with light ocher earth in the Middle East landed.
Shortly after 11:30 PM Japan time, the aircraft landed at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
First of all, I am relieved to have safely stepped into the Middle East.
On the following day, the Prime Minister began a summit meeting with King Salman.
However, the king is 84 years old. A meeting with Prince Mohammad, who was 34 years old and took over diplomacy with domestic affairs, was the biggest pilgrimage to the Middle East.
The Crown Prince is a reformer who is rapidly pursuing an oil-reliance policy, but is highly praised for being involved in the killings of journalists. He is known for his hard-line attitude toward Iran, such as calling Iran's top leader, Khamenei, a new Hitler.
The power of the region, Saudi Arabia, had a great influence on the Gulf States, and the main focus was on drawing words from the Crown Prince to ease tensions at the talks.
The talks with the Crown Prince took place in Ura, northwest. In a desert area surrounded by strangely shaped rocks, there is a fantastic atmosphere.
Prime Minister Abe is the first foreign leader invited to the area, and he seems to be passionate about setting up a traditional tent near the Prince's villa.
The trip, which took about two hours by plane from Riyadh and started at 8:30 PM local time, lasted one hour.
Surprise of "Dotera"
After the talks, Deputy Secretary-General Okada, who was present, gave a briefing.
The prime minister called for self-restraint with Iran in mind, saying, "The tensions in the region are having a negative impact on the world and a dialogue between the parties is essential. Saudi Arabia will strengthen its efforts. "
It was said that the word "dialogue" could be derived from the Prince who was hard-lined in Iran. He also said that he fully responded that he would "fully support" the SDF dispatch. "The two people sitting down on the carpet and talking with each other seemed really close and intimate," said Okada.
Reporters asked about the folk costumes that the Prime Minister was wearing.
"It's kind of like" Dotera "in Japan."
How are you
That's for sure.
The folk costume, called "Falwa," is said to be a surprise gift from the Crown Prince. Is it a meeting place or folk costume, and the production that emphasizes intimacy is strongly conscious of the eyes of the media?
Don't you laugh too much?
The next day, the Prime Minister toured Saudi Arabia's first World Heritage Site.
Until now, Saudi Arabia had been strictly restricted from entering foreign countries except for business, but as a part of the Crown Prince's policy to eliminate oil, tourist visas for foreigners were lifted last September.
This “Madine Saleh” is the centerpiece of the tourism.
After the tour, the Prime Minister briefly talked about the tour and last night's talks in front of the TV camera.
During my visit, this was the one I responded to. Is the reduction of local exposure the least concern for Iran?
Then head to the next country to visit, UAE = UAE.
Abu Dhabi, the capital, is like a futuristic city with flashy skyscrapers.
The UAE, like Saudi Arabia, is in opposition to Iran and is participating in a US-led coalition.
Tensions were booming during this period, with reports that Iran would consider UAE's attack on Dubai if it was attacked by the United States.
The meeting is also with Prince Mohammed Abu Dhabi, who sounds in a hard-line stance toward Iran.
But here too, the same thing happened in Saudi Arabia.
The Crown Prince responded in a restraining manner, saying, "We will make diplomatic efforts in step with the countries concerned." "We will spare no concrete cooperation and support for dispatching the SDF," he said.
What is Saudi Arabia, a different attitude that can be said to be a reconciliation to Iran?
Anyway, when the UAE schedule was over and people were comfortable, he said that the synchronization of the Dubai bureau that had joined was unexpected.
"When I met the Saudi Crown Prince yesterday, Prime Minister Abe wore a folk costume and smiled a lot, right? In Iran, she looked a little hard."
"Iran may think that Japan is on the Saudi side."
At the beginning, I felt it was that much.
However, he reconsidered whether this could be replaced by "recruitment" and Japan and South Korea, whose relations continue to deteriorate in export control.
"It's like a prince in a tent or a folk costume. I'm involved in my own pace with such tricks."
When I heard such a story, I felt that I understood the aim of the Crown Prince who had spent two hours in Riyadh in the moonlit desert.
New King who did not plan to meet
Oman is the last country visited.
We have already mentioned that the death of the king was happening. Initially, in Oman, talks were planned with Special Representatives of King Asuad, but the new King was appointed by the Minister of Culture of Hightham Heritage, who was not scheduled to meet. A new talk schedule was not readily announced as the coordination was difficult, and it was decided the day before.
On the 14th, moved from UAE to Oman. The cityscape of the capital city of Muscat is beautiful with white walls of houses shining in the blue sky.
Immediately upon arrival, the Prime Minister held a memorial service and talks with the new King Hightham for nine minutes at the palace.
For a short time, the situation of not being able to meet the new king for the time being was avoided.
Subsequently, a meeting was held with Special Representative of King Asad.
Oman remains neutral in the region and maintains good relations with Iran. Therefore, the main agenda was about the port for SDF resupply, but the Omani side was willing to cooperate, and a series of tours of the Middle East ended.
What are the achievements?
During his visit to the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who had not broken their hard-line stance on Iran, elicited a positive response to the dialogue. Saudi Arabia has expressed "full support", UAE has expressed "specific cooperation and support", and Oman has expressed "evaluation and cooperation" in the case of the SDF dispatch. These are certainly results.
But why did Saudi Arabia and the UAE soften their attitudes toward Iran?
After returning to Japan, officials who accompanied the tour explained:
"The Saudi crown prince was close to President Trump, seeing his self-restraint in Iran and calculating that it would be better to do so now. So, I may have sent it. "
He says that the order of visit was also important.
"Oman went to the last day of mourning on the third day after his death and was able to meet the new King. If the order of visits was reversed, Oman would have seen just after the death of the King and no one could see him The UAE may not have softened in a situation where Saudis do not know what to say to Iran. It was like timing a thread through a needle. "
However, concerns remain.
Information collected by the SDF is shared with the US military and others. There may not be a problem in peacetime. But when tensions between the United States and the Gulf nations and Iran rise again, and in the unforeseen circumstances, will Iran allow the SDF as it is now?
On the other hand, isn't the United States demanding that the SDF play a greater role?
With that in mind, the stage of threading the needle may be coming soon.
Nobuyuki Hanaoka, political reporter
Entered the station in 2006. After working for the Akita Bureau, he became a political department in 2011. After that, he went to the political department again via the Hakodate Bureau. Since 19, he has been in charge of security at the official residence club.