Japan-Arab conference at the Alexandria library


I arrived the Kansai airport from Haneda on the evening of Nov. 19th.  Then I flew to Dubai and now arrived at Alexandria, Egypt.  This was my 3rd visit to the Dubai airport in last 4 weeks.  I arrived at Alexandria on the 20th at 11:30 and headed directly to the Alexandria Library.  This about 2300 year’s old library is the world’s first scientific academy, and the magnificient buliding was reconstructed 5 years ago.  The contents have also been reinforced under the leadership of Dr. Serageldin, the library chief.  He is also my friend and has developed several excellent programs.  I am also a member of the Board of Trustees of the library for past 3 years and I visit this place for the meeting conducted in spring.

I arrived to the Library just in time.  I had an interview from 1:00 pm with Mr. Helal, the Education Minister of Science and Technology.  I have met him several times in past few years.  He is a scholar and a splendid person.  There is a considerable support from Japan.  It is delightful to hear that an opera house is being constructed recently in addition to the plans of establishing a science and technology institute with the support of Japan.  I mainly discussed about the academic exchange with Minister Helal.

Egypt01Photo1  On the library terrace

There were about 120 people from Japan and 150 people from Arab countries participated in the Japan-Arab conference.  The conference had various sessions and sub-sessions and a full discussions were conducted about a wide range of topics, such as politics, economics, science, technology, environment, health care, culture, and art, etc..  From Japan, the group was headed by honorable former MInister Mr. Taro Nakayama besides honorable former Ministers, Mr. Koji Omi, Ms. Yuriko Koike.  From the business sector Mr. Jiro Nemoto of honorary chairman of Nippon Yusen, Mr. Sadao Umeda of chairman of Kajima Corporation.  Dr. Masahisa Yamauchi, a professor of Middle East politics, Mr. Daisuke Nishimura, a foreign ministry environment personnel, and Mr. Youji Yamada, a film director who directed "The Twilight Samurai" was also present since this film was to be shown there.  I chaired the environment and water panel and went to several panels.  I was happy that several people I know had come as representatives from the Arab world.

Also I have a good time with former Ambassador Mr. Arima Tatsuo, the busy Japanese government representative on the MIddle East Affairs.  We had planed to meet up before but our timelines never matched until this time.  Needless to say that Mr. Ishikawa, an ambassador to Egypt, and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Katakura and Mr. Sudou, the former ambassadors to the embassy of Egypt, participated.  This kind of gathering of three ambassodor was extremely rare as I was told.  Also, an ambassador to Morocco, Ms. Haruko Hirose(Also introduced in the blog of Ms. Mayumi Moriyama, a member and worked as No.2 in UNIDO) had come over there.  Since she is working with the United Nations for a long time, even a minor opinion she say shows a fine taste on international relations.

Egypt02Photo2  In the Hernan Palestine Hotel.  From right, Mr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Mr.Takaya Sudo(Chairman of Research Institute of International Affairs Disarmament Center, Former Ambassador to Egypt), Dr. Masayuki Yamauchi(a professor at The University of Tokyo), Ms. Aiko Douden(NHK Commentator), myself, Mr. Numata Sadaaki(Chairman of Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Former Ambassador to Canada), Mr. Shinsaku Sugiyama(Councilor of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Middle East Africa Bureau)

Historically, there has been little religious conflicts between the Middle East and Japan.  Since good relations are built from the past, it is a region in which mutual exchanges need to be continued.and strengthened  The basic understanding with both parties is that current exchange with Japan is solely in relation to petroleum, and Arabs are not very aware of Japan and vice versa.  It was agreed that there should be more and more exchanges in various fields.  In addition to this, it was also agreed that the contribution of Japan towards environment, clean energy and water problems was immeasurable.

A congress member, Ms. Yuriko Koike, appeared live-broadcasting on the Cairo T.V. on the night of 21st about an hour.  There was one to one interview in Arabic and the theme was about “global warming” and “CoolBiz” in fluent Arabic language which actually was quite something.  A tree plantation is going on in the deserts from past 10 years and currently there seem to be 14,000 trees now.  This year, the Cairo University is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  Ms. Koike, a graduate of Cairo University, is quite admirable that she has many friends and influential people over here.

On the afternoon of 22nd, I left Cairo.  Since I had a time at Dubai about 5 hours for transit, I had dinner with Ms. Lama Farsakh(Photo3).  She is from Palestine and her husband is from Egypt.  They have two daughters.  We mostly talked about the Israel-Palestine issues.


Photo3  With Ms. Lama Farsakh