There is hardly a nation in the world with a more prominent economic and trade role in the Middle East than Japan. By the same token, few nations are as illequipped to deal with the region on any but strictly economic terms.
Japan's Middle Eastern trade has become absolutely vital to its economic well-being at the very time that political events have reached new levels of chaos in the region. Now in Tokyo voices are being raised in alarm at the shallowness of Japanese foreign policy for the Middle East. At a recent seminar, Toyoaki Ikuta of the Institute of Energy Economics stated flatly: “Japan has no ability militarily or politically to influence Middle Eastern affairs. If there is a problem in oil supply, of all the industrial nations Japan would be the hardest hit. Because of this, Japan must make a greater contribution to security in the Middle East.’