Japan's Foreign Minister Warns Israel on Iran War
May 3, 2012 • 7:00AM

At the beginning of a two-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily that "Japan is very concerned over the Iranian nuclear issue."

"The international community, including Japan, is putting unprecedented pressure on Iran, and the renewal of talks between the world powers and Iran is a result of this pressure," he said.

"The military option will not only give Iran an excuse to expedite its nuclear program, but could also increase the instability in the region, which would threaten Israel," Gemba warned. "Using a military option would not only provide an excuse to Iran but could unite the Arab world against Israel."

The minister's remarks reiterated concerns that both he and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had raised in mid-February during a visit to Tokyo by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

Gemba expressed the same ideas when he met with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, and later, separately, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "... [P]atience and self-restraint are called for on the part of Israel," Gemba said to Lieberman. Gemba told Netanyahu that pressure must be applied continuously to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue but called on Israel to refrain from going to war with Iran. Netanyahu replied that his country did not want a war, either, according to Yomiuri Shinbum.