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Israel and Japan’s Rising Sun Relations

Why Tokyo and Tel Aviv Are Finally Cozying Up

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at their summit in Jerusalem, January 2015. Baz Ratner / Reuters

After nearly 70 years of cautious, arm’s-length relations, Israel and Japan have recently moved to significantly upgrade diplomatic and business ties. Over the past several years, the two countries have entered into a number of important political and economic agreements, transforming their once limited bilateral relationship into one more characteristic of allied partners. From a series of high-level dialogues on national security and cybersecurity to their first bilateral investment agreement, Israeli-Japanese relations are flourishing.

Despite Israel’s and Japan’s shared democratic values, open trade policies, complementary business and industrial environments, and close alliance with the United States, relations between the two countries have long remained strikingly underdeveloped. But today, three forces are driving their rapid improvement: fundamental changes in the global energy market, developments in Japan’s domestic political and economic landscape, and shifts in the distribution of geopolitical power. Together, these have led policymakers in both countries to

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