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Japan PM departs for UAE to attend U.N. meeting amid Israel conflict


Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday embarked on a four-day trip to the United Arab Emirates to attend a U.N. conference on climate change, during which he is expected to hold talks with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Kishida is slated to take part in a summit-level gathering of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP28, scheduled for two days through Saturday in Dubai.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (C) waves at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Nov. 30, 2023, as he boards a government plane to head to the United Arab Emirates to attend a U.N. conference on climate change. (Kyodo)

Kishida will deliver a speech on Friday on the country’s decarbonization strategy, the Foreign Ministry said. Japan, one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

“I would like to demonstrate Japan’s determination to take a leading role in Asia” to realize carbon neutrality, Kishida told reporters at his office before leaving Tokyo for Dubai.

Kishida also said that he plans to hold talks on the sidelines of the U.N. conference with leaders from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar as well as Italy, which will take over the rotating presidency of the Group of Seven from Japan in 2024. He may meet with Herzog on Friday, government sources said.

It would be Kishida’s first in-person talks with an Israeli political leader since the Middle Eastern nation was attacked by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7, triggering a large-scale conflict.

At the talks, Kishida is poised to call on Herzog to work to ease tensions in the conflict centered on the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave of Gaza, the sources said.

Resource-poor Japan, which is highly dependent on crude oil and other energy materials from the Middle East, has traditionally sought to pursue a “balanced diplomacy” between Israel and Muslim countries in the region.

Kishida has expressed eagerness to encourage COP28 participants to make more efforts to accomplish the goals outlined in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

The 2015 Paris Agreement sets out a framework to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change by limiting global warming to “well below” 2 C, preferably to 1.5 C, compared with levels before the Industrial Revolution.


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