Deepening friendship and cooperation with Islamic countries

Ogata Yasuo, Japanese Communist Party International Bureau director and member of the House of Councilors, was the first JCP representative to attend the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit. Ogata reported on his experiences at the OIC summit held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia from October 13 to 17 in the October 30 issue of Akahata.

I never felt out of place as a JCP representative

It was the first time the JCP received an invitation from the OIC. It was also the first time that a JCP representative attended the OIC summit. As a matter of fact, I was the first Japanese to attend the conference. I received a hearty welcome there. It was four years after JCP Chair Fuwa Tetsuzo's visit to Malaysia, and I was moved to see relations developing in this way between the JCP and Islamic nations.

Many ask me why the JCP is so interested in having relations with the Islamic world. The Islamic world has a population of 1.3 billion, accounting for one-fifth of the population of the world. It is estimated that the Islamic population will continue to increase to account for one-third of the world population in 20 years. As they keep tackling the problem of poverty and underdevelopment, they suffer from a big "misunderstanding" that Islam is associated with terrorists. The JCP believes it very important in world politics to deepen mutual understanding with the Islamic world in order to assess world politics accurately.

Mr. A. Manane Bakhit, director of Political Affairs at the OIC General Secretariat, said I would be able to attend any Islamic conferences and seminars I wished to.

Because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and other events, Islamic countries tend to believe that a "Communist party is an enemy". It is very exciting in such a circumstance that the OIC welcomes the JCP.

Islamic nations seek dialogue with the West

Islamic countries are seeking to have dialogues and maintain peace with the West. The problem is how non-Islamic nations respond to this.

This was why the OIC Summit focused on issues related to peace. The OIC maintains the principle of peace based on the U.N. Charter. In dealing with the Iraq war and the subsequent occupation, they call for peace to be restored based on the U.N. Charter, although the road ahead may be complicated.

The Summit meeting was not a place to criticize particular nations, but it was clear that member nations disagreed with the U.S. policy of hegemony, unilateralism, and preemptive attack. The OIC expressed that its member countries would not send troops to Iraq without U.N. resolutions. The final communique of the meeting emphasized the need to restore Iraq's sovereignty and to give the U.N. the main role in dealing with the reconstruction of Iraq.

Partly because the United Nations Security Council was discussing the resolution on Iraq at the time, OIC delegates in their speeches referred to the positions the United States, France and Russia expressed in the U.N. session. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was attending the OIC summit as observer, had a high political profile. A Malaysian local newspaper described Putin's presence as "Russia's diplomatic debut in Islamic society." A European Union representative, also an observer, emphasized the need to promote dialogues between different cultures.

In contrast, Japan was unnoticeable from beginning to end at the latest ASEAN Summit. Everyone knew why Japan was reluctant to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which was signed by China and India. The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty conflicts with the ASEAN treaty calling for "non-aggression" and "perpetual peace" in Asia and is hampering ties of friendship between Japan and Southeast Asia.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is widely known. In Pakistan and other west Asian countries, Japan is often referred to as a pacific nation that helped promote economic development.

Some representatives asked me to answer why Japan decided to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq in defiance of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. A representative said he does not understand what Japan has in mind. Many are concerned that Japan may become a war-fighting country by removing Article 9 from the Constitution.

Deepening friendship and cooperation

Islamic people treasure friendship and fidelity. Tunisia's chief delegate to the conference was Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia, who had previously received JCP CC Chair Fuwa Tetsuzo. The foreign minister asked me to give his best regards to Fuwa. He invited Fuwa to visit Tunisia sometime between November and February, the best season in the country, to travel in the desert to make up for the last visit in the scorching heat of August.

Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia chairman and CEO Noordin Sopiee said that in Malaysia the communist party is banned due to the armed struggle that the Malayan Communist Party had carried out, but that he came to have a good understanding of the JCP's history, policies, and positions on various issues. He said that when his wife asked him if his relations with the JCP would cause no problems, he assured her that the JCP is as rational as he."

Noordin Sopiee is a key member of the Malaysian government's foreign policy team.

Relations between the JCP and Malaysia began in 1999 when Fuwa Tetsuzo, JCP Executive Committee Chair at the time, visited the country. This was followed by participation by Malaysian government representatives in the World Conference against A&H Bombs. The World Conference received a message of support from the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Our exchanges with the Islamic world has further increased to include Southeast Asia and North Africa; a JCP delegation toured the Middle East, JCP Chair Shii Kazuo visited Pakistan, and CC Chair Fuwa visited Tunisia.

These JCP activities are based on a quest for peace through mutual understanding with the Islamic world. This fits with the Islamic countries' call for peace based on the United Nations Charter. The contacts have led to building relations of deep trust. Understanding of and expectations for the JCP have increased, and there remain no barriers to exchanges. We often heard from people we met that the JCP is broad-minded. Some people have even expressed hope that the JCP will come to power soon.

When I returned from Saudi Arabia, I visited the acting Saudi Arabian charge d'affaires Mohammad Ameen Wali at the embassy in Tokyo. The ambassador was very pleased to hear that the visit was a great success. He wished that the JCP relate to the Japanese parliament and the public about the Islamic world as the delegates witnessed first-hand so that the call for peace become worldwide during the fasting month of Ramadan, an important Islam event beginning October 27.

The wish he expressed made me recognize anew that the JCP, though an opposition party at present, is playing a role in enhancing peace and progress in the world, representing the true interest of Japan and its people in foreign relations. (end)

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