Japan-Saudi Joint Vision

Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo

At the Group of 20 Foreign Ministers meeting which was held on Nov. 23, 2019 in Nagoya, Japan, Saudi Arabia’s new foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud was officially passed the role of the presidency of the G20 from the Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi who also recently took up this position. Saudi Arabia will become the first Arab nation to host the G20 global economic summit on November 21-22, 2020 in Riyadh.

Success of the G20 in 2020, which consists of more than a hundred of events, conferences and ministerial meetings stretched throughout the year culminating in the Summit, is a touchstone for Saudi Arabia’s consolidation as a fully-fledged regional power with a global stature. Saudi Arabia has to dispel suspicions and accusations by skeptics and adversaries in the diplomatic and security fields, as well as to achieve concretely in the economic and social reforms in order to meet expectations which have been raised in recent years.

It’s been propitious that the ties have been strengthened and a closer cooperation is promoted between two countries in this occasion of the exchange of presidency roles. Japan, as a longtime energy partner with Saudi Arabia, is ready to support Saudi Arabia in its transition to a regional power led by young generations.

During Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Japan in March 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Abe and the Crown Prince agreed on the economic cooperation plan called Saudi-Japan Vision 2030, obviously Japan’s follow-up to Prince Mohammed’s Saudi Vision 2030 plan which was launched in April 2016.

An outlier businessman and visionary Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of Softbank, set up $100 billion Vision Fund and from which $45 billion were invested by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund.

Tokyo Stock Exchange may be the dark horse for the ARAMCO’s second IPO site following the success in the domestic Saudi Tadawul market. If ARAMCO chooses Tokyo, it’s a big, big deal, though slim possibilities.

For Japan too, 2020 is the year of special challenges and opportunities since it hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in July and August.

Aside from the infrastructural preparation for the sports and cultural events, utmost efforts are exerted in security and diplomatic fields in order to preclude any disturbances emanating from entities who take advantage of these events which attract world attentions. The same is true for Saudi’s during the tense and festive year of the G20 presidency. There is much room for cooperation.

Multiple visions are converging between the Far East and the Middle East.