Making the Connection: Japan and Israel

One week ago, I arrived back in the states from a trip to Japan. On a trip put together by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I had the opportunity of meeting senior officials within the government, especially those with a focus on the Middle East. If one thing is for certain, Israel and Japan are very similar.

As an American student in Japan, with a focus on the Middle East and the U.S. Israel relationship, it was tough for me to see the connection between Israel and Japan during the beginning part of the trip. A small country on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and a small island next to China don’t typically elude to allies.

A few days into the trip, we had the opportunity of meeting with a senior official in the Diet (Japan’s Parliament) and one thing dawned on me — the situation that Israel faces, with existential threats like ISIS in surrounding countries and Syria, and Japan being an island not too far from dominant China and pending nuclear threat, North Korea — the similarities are there.

If you have ever had the chance of going to Israel, you know what I mean when I say the feeling is unlike any other. Even in a time of desperate outbreak like the New Years Day shooting in Tel Aviv (I was only blocks away when the shooting occurred), the spirit of those in the holy land always remained upbeat. While in Japan, I felt the same type of love. While traveling around in a group of 15 that looked similar to a birthright group in Israel, we were showed the utmost amount of respect.

I enjoy going to Israel because it makes me feel like I’m at home. Japan gave off the same homey feeling, so if nothing else, I encourage you to look into an adventure to Japan. I’m available via Facebook at the bottom of the page, so if you ever decide to head to Japan, and are in need of suggestions, I would be more than happy to help.

It became apparent to me that Japan’s foreign policy structure was similar to that of Israel’s, with similar ideas of how to deal with other countries. From a national security perspective, I was shocked to find out that Japan’s military is constitutionally defined as non-offensive. During the occupation of Japan in the 1940s, Douglas MacArthur enacted the same Japanese constitution that is being used today — a piece of information that not many people are aware of. That same parliament member that I mentioned earlier said: “We are on high alert when it comes to to an attack from our enemies, much like Israel is.” After hearing that, the similarities became even clearer.

Ultimately, there are many reasons why Israel and Japan are similar. If you have the chance to read this, I challenge you to look for a similarity between Israel and Japan and comment it below in a positive dialogue.

About the Author
Jason is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon, and now works for a major Jewish non-profit in the United States. Ever since his childhood, Jason has enjoyed working with and helping others. Over the past five or so years, Jason found his calling in the Jewish community - he now gets the chance to work with and inspire the next generation of young, dynamic Jewish leaders on American college campuses. A zionist at heart, Jason sees the ugly battle being waged against Jews across the globe, and he feels like it is his obligation to defend those who have sacrificed everything to give him and others the platform to share their narrative.
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