Interview with Dr. Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Further promotion of political, economic and cultural partnership between Japan and Iran
Dr. Seyed Abbas Araghchi contributed significantly to the establishment of Japan - Iran relations as the Ambassador to Japan from 2007 to 2011. In his recent visit to Japan as the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he held energetic talks with Japan's political and economic leaders. Despite his busy schedule, he kindly accepted our request for an interview.
－What was the purpose of your visit to Japan this time? ?
My visit to Japan is based on an invitation extended to me by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) to have a lecture here and to meet scholars and experts. I had the pleasure to meet the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of METI and Minister of Finance. As you know, we are in the post JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) era after the nuclear deal. Sanctions are lifted and there are huge opportunities to expand bilateral relations between Iran and Japan in all fields, especially in the economic field. I am also going to meet many leaders of the banks and Japanese companies. I hope that this visit can contribute to more expansion of relations between Iran and Japan.
－How significant is cultural exchange?
There have been contacts between Iran and Japan, which go back to at least 1,500 years ago. Through the Silk Road, there have been both economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides. During all these years, cultural exchanges have been always prominent. These exchanges have never stopped, even in the years of sanctions. We are glad that we have been quite successful of that. I admire Mr. Kobei Kato, who is responsible for restoring the techniques of Iran's lusterware, for playing a very important role in this regard. When I met him for the first time, it was quite impressive for me to see that all the Iranian techniques are used here in Japan to produce very beautiful modern art. So I decided to make a connection between him and Iranian art centers. He has had several exhibitions in Iran so far. He has traveled to Iran. He has been very well received by art centers in Iran. That was a very successful experience of cultural exchange.
－What are your long-term prospects in terms of human rights and the rights of women as the Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs?
The question of human rights and the rights of women is very important for the whole country. The government and President Rouhani attach great importance to that. All doors are open for women to take part in any activities they wish. As you see, we have now women as parliamentarians. We have a woman as the vice president. We have women in different places. But the number is not high, which is not acceptable. The Iranian government has a program to empower women at all levels so that they can present their capabilities, develop their capabilities, and contribute to the progress of society in a much better way. As far as the Foreign Ministry is concerned, we are interested in establishing working relations with other countries in the same subject. For example, we have developed a project with the SPF. There are experiences in Japan we can use, and experiences in Iran that Japanese women can use. A dialog can be established between women in two countries, so that they can be both empowered, learn from each other's experiences, and take part in social and political activities as well as economic entrepreneurship.
－ How would you evaluate joint programs with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation?
We started a program for exchanging students with support from the SPF. Each year, a group of ten or so Iranian and Japanese students come to each other's capital city. Many of the Iranian students are my students. I have been in touch with them after they returned from Tokyo. They are quite satisfied that they have found a new image of Japan. I'm sure they will play an important role for the future of Iran - Japan relations because they are mostly students who will enter into the foreign office as young diplomats. Next we come to this project of women's empowerment, which is at its beginning. We are now thinking about other projects between the two sides, in the field of environment and tourism. Things are moving forward. We appreciate that. We are fully prepared to continue our cooperation with the SPF.
Play the video below for a full interview with Dr. Seyed Abbas Araghchi.