Japan caught unaware . . .
Asia Pacific countries are voicing their concerns over security, energy, and labour safety following the U.S. killing of Iran’s top general. Japan, in particular, was caught unaware, and had been building closer ties with Iran while hoping to act as a mediator between Washington and Tehran. Last June, Japanese Prime Minister Abe became the first sitting Japanese leader to visit Iran in 40 years. Just two weeks before the fatal drone strike, Iranian President Rouhani met Abe again in Tokyo, hoping to open new trade opportunities to boost Iran’s troubled economy. Earlier today, Abe reiterated his country’s 2020 plan to deploy naval forces to the Middle East independent of U.S.-led operations in the region. The Middle East provides nearly 90 per cent of Japan’s oil imports.
Other countries prepare to evac workers . . .
Economic growth in the Gulf economies has attracted millions of migrant workers from countries like India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and China. The increasing volatility in the region has already led Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte to order the military to prepare to evacuate thousands of Filipino workers in Iraq and Iran. South Korean government ministries have discussed strengthening protections for the nearly 1,900 South Koreans in those countries, while the Indian External Affairs Minister has exchanged phone calls with his counterpart in Iran raising concerns about the safety of Indian citizens. Gulf States are home to more than seven million Indian workers, a key driver of the region’s growth.
Financial and energy security . . .
Asia’s financial markets headed into turbulence today, the first trading day after the assassination. Japan’s markets encountered the heaviest losses with Tokyo’s stock exchange dropping 1.39 per cent. Growing tensions also amplified Asian countries’ concerns over energy security. Global oil prices rose over three per cent following the attack, reaching a four month high. Among the world’s top-five crude oil importers, four are in Asia: China, India, Japan, and South Korea. The Middle East accounts for more than half of China’s, and more than 90 per cent of Japan’s crude oil supply. Iran is also home to the world’s largest natural gas field – the South Pars gas field, which is expected to supply Asian countries once the final development phases are completed.
- Bloomberg: Japan Navy Keeps Plan for Mideast Deployment Amid Iran Tension
- The New York Times: In Japan, Iran’s President May Be Seeking a Line to the U.S.
- Voice of America: Asian Countries Brace to Evacuate Workers in Iraq, Iran