Jordan and Japan

Jawad Anani
Jawad Anani (Photo: Jordan News)
In 1988, I was an official delegate, among other dignitaries, to Japan. HRH Prince Al Hassan Ibn Talal headed the delegation on that state visit. He was also accompanied by Princess Sarvath Al Hassan and Prince Rashid Ibn Al Hassan.اضافة اعلان

Needless to say that the trip preparations were meticulously tabulated and scheduled by an advance Japanese team. They did their job with the deftness of the Hattori Hanzu (swordsmith). Upon arrival, each delegate was assigned to his car, given a fully-detailed schedule for the whole visit, and cars left on time whether the official guest was in it or not.

We noticed that there were sound barriers to prevent car noise from reaching nearby residential areas all the way to our hotel in the heart of Tokyo (New Otani). Once there, it took only five minutes for each guest to be in his room and to find that his bag had been waiting for him. Such efficiency was pleasantly shocking.

The visit was very rich. The ruling party at the time was the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headed by the late Takeshita Noboru. The LPD announced the visit with the assertion that Japan views Jordan as a strategic country for peace and security in the Middle East. Until today the same position is echoed in all foreign policy statements of the consecutive Japanese governments.

The first item of the second day was to head to the foreign ministry in order to meet the minister, Susuke Uno. The delegation stood near the lift to wait for Prince Al Hassan and in order to join him to the cars, in violation of the detailed visit itinerary. It specially mentioned that the delegates should be exactly at 8:30am waiting in their respective cars. Prince Hassan reached his car ahead of us, and by the time we arrived to where the cars were supposed to be, we found out that they had left with the Prince to the foreign ministry. The cars returned to pick us up half an hour later, and by the time we arrived, the meeting was almost over.

These are lessons which we should learn when we sit to talk to our Japanese counterparts. When you negotiate with them, you should be fully prepared to the last detail. A Japanese delegate will only talk when the head of the delegation allows him to. If the head does not have the answer, they leave the meeting, debate it amongst themselves and return with an answer or a counter offer. The style of group dynamic decision-making process is quite effective and produces the best results. I learned this style in Jordan both academically and during my negotiations with big Japanese corporations like C. Itoh Mitsubishi and others.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency is very much active in Jordan’s development. According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, which published a report on Japan-Jordan economic relations on June 11, 2020, Japanese exports to Jordan in 2019 reached 55.2 billion Japanese yen (JD360 million) while its imports from Jordan were only 3.9 billion yen (JD25 million). Aid to Jordan until 2016 was 282.6 billion yen (JD1.8 billion) in soft and 87 billion yen (JD568 million) in grants and development loans, which are usually very easy loans with a grace period, 1–2 percent annual interest, and could reach maturity in 30 years.

Japan also spends on many cultural projects in Jordan. Yet aid is focused right now on the crucially important water sector.

The late King Al Hussein and His Majesty King Abdullah II have paid a number of visits to Japan. It is a friendly country and its ambassadors to Jordan are always responsive to Jordan’s needs and serve as excellent proponents of Jordan.

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