After his first visit to the US, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took a seven day trip through the Middle East visiting Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt. Two interesting things (in my mind) happened on this trip.
First, in Saudi Arabia Abe offered King Abdullah the “use of oil storage facilities in Okinawa”:http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/405354 in exchange for preferential purchasing rights in case of an emergency. Large storage tanks in Asia could help with distribution of Saudi oil in Asia. Abe is looking to deepen Japan’s energy relationship with Saudi Arabia. After having to back out of the Iran deal and getting hosed on the Russian deal, Japan’s search for a stable energy supply is leading them to “the Devil” as Robert Baer would say. Echoes of Japan and America’s special security relationship.
Second, in Abu Dhabi Abe “met with MSDF crew”:http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/405410 supporting anti-terrorism ops in the Gulf. He told them he hopes they will help “write a new chapter for Japan on the frontlines of international contribution.” Abe is staying on message here (e.g. on Constitution Day last week Abe’s office “released another statement”:http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/405670 calling for constitutional revision) with his goal to reform Article 9 and the Japanese constitution. The interesting thing here is he is bringing his message directly to troops on the “front line.”
All in all the trip abroad wasn’t terribly exciting. As usual Abe remains determined to push for a “Beautiful Japan.” Maybe not so usual is the new move to field alternative policies to protect Japan’s oil supply. Since this plays right into my thesis I can’t wait to see how it turns out.