Cultural Relations Between Saudi Arabia and Japan From the Time of King ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz
to the Time of King Fahd
Amin K. Tokumasu
One of the most significant events that helped shape the relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia was when a Japanese Muslim made Hajj (pilgrimage) to Makkah for the first time in history. In December 1909 (12-1327H), Mr. Koutaro Yamaoka performed Hajj as the first Japanese to do so under the guidance of ‘Abd al-Rashid Ibrahim of Tatar. After returning, he published Sekai no shinpikyou Arabia Juudannki (‘Travels across the Arabian Peninsula’) (1912/1330H) and Kaikaikyou no Shinpiteki Iryoku (‘Mysterious Powers of Islam’) (1921/1339H).
Mr Yamaoka was followed by Mr Ippei Tanaka, who performed Hajj in July 1924 (1342H), with Mr Ma, a Chinese citizen. He published Hakuun Yuuki (‘Record of Hakuunyo’) (1925/1343). Mr Tanaka performed Hajj again in March 1933 (12-1325H), this time with Mr Hideo Nakao, a Japanese ex-diplomat.
Mr Yamaoka gave a presentation on his Hajj experience at his alma mater. In his presentation he said:
As many as 200,000 to 500,000 people of the yellow and black races assemble in Makkah every year. From my observation, there were about 200,000 people this year. To enter the Holy Territory of Makkah, these Muslims come to one of three ports: Jeddah, Yanbo, or Beirut. Before coming to these ports, they cut their hair, remove their clothes, and perform Islamic ritual ablution (Udu). They enter the Holy Land almost naked, with only a long piece of white cloth wrapped around their chests and waists. They cross the desert eastward for 60 km to enter Makkah. On the way they repeatedly call out the Islamic profession of devotion (talbiyah) in Arabic, many thousands in unison. Numerous people are gathered to the Holy Mosque in this way. This is the Mosque in the centre of which is the cubic Ka’ba, which is said to be the first construction made by human beings.
If there was a ritual or festival on the same scale in Japan, it would be impossible to preserve order without police control. However, in Makkah people of different races and classes are able to come together in a respectful manner, greeting each other with Al-salaam Aleikum and praying in the same style. The most trained, most orderly prayer is seen in Hajj.
After praying in Makkah, the pilgrims move on to Mt Arafat. Some ride camels and donkeys, some travel on foot. ... In these ways, the pilgrimage is not at all an easy matter. However, every year, thousands of Muslim pilgrims travel to Makkah, and from Makkah move on further, 300 miles towards the north, to the second holy city called Madinah [Nihon Isuramushi (‘History of Islam in Japan’) by Mr Fujio Komura, Tokyo, 1988/1408H, pp.362–5].
A Failed Attempt to Assassinate King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Observed by Japanese Pilgrims
On 15 March, 1935 (10-12-1353H), King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz was attacked by armed men during his performance of Hajj. This shocking incident was witnessed by four Japanese pilgrims, Messrs Shouzo Kouri, Takeshi Suzuki, Masashi Hosokawa, and Taro Yamamoto, who were also performing Hajj and were praying at the Ka’ba sanctuary, where the attempted assassination took place. Mr Takeshi Suzuki reports this incident in his Mekkah Jyureiki (‘Hajj’) (1943/1362). What he observed was as follows:
At that time, King Ibn Saud was carrying out the seven circumambulations (Tawaaf) with ten of his men. They wore the exact same costume as we did, with exception of few men carrying guns for protection. During the Tawaaf of King Ibn Saud, the others sat quietly surrounding His Majesty and his men. The King and the others read the Qur’an in a loud voice. They had gone through four circumambulations and were on their fifth, when suddenly four thugs jumped out of the crowd and attacked the King with swords!
Three thugs were immediately shot to death, and one was captured. It all happened so quickly – but I clearly remember how the King yelled to his men who were shooting, ‘Don’t kill them! Capture them!’ When matters had been settled, the Mosque again grew quiet as usual. His Majesty continued with his Tawaaf as though nothing had happened.
The King’s attitude during and after the sudden attack was praised as being brave and calm. He was admired as the great king who had undergone the difficulties of uniting the whole of the desert into a single country [Takeshi Suzuki, Mekkah Jyunreiki, pp. 185–7].
A Saudi Delegate Attends the Inauguration Ceremony of the Tokyo Mosque In May 1938 (3-1357H), many ambassadors from Islamic nations attended the Tokyo Mosque’s dedication ceremony in Ooyama-chou, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. The Saudi government sent HE Hafiz Wahaba, Minister to Great Britain, to attend this ceremony. During his visit, the minister actively conducted interviews with Japanese government officials. This was the first visit to Japan made by a Saudi government official.
Minister Yokoyama’s meeting with King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz In March 1939 (2-1358H), as a response to the visit of Minister Hafiz Wahaba, the Japanese government sent HE Masayuki Yokoyama, Minister to Egypt, on a special mission to Riyadh. Mr Tomoyoshi Mitsuchi, a technician of the ministry of commerce and industry, and Mr Eijirou Nakano, an interpreter, accompanied him.
They travelled on a ship departing from Suez for Jeddah, and arrived on 26 March (5-2-1358). On the next day they left Jeddah in a fleet of four cars. It took five days for them to drive through the desert to reach Riyadh.
On 1 April (11-2-1358H), they met King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz at the Muraba Palace in Riyadh. Mr Nakano described this incident in his book Arabia Kikou (‘Travels in Arabia’) (1944/1363H) in the following terms:
We crossed the large hall diagonally through the pillars, towards a large man sitting on a special throne, dressed in a Mishlah. On the right-hand side, seven or eight men in Mishlah sat with stern faces. We knew by intuition that the large man sitting in the corner was King Ibn Saud. We went forward, and His Majesty stood up. With a mild expression on his face, he first took Minister Yokoyama’s hands, and then shook hands with Mr. Mitsuchi and myself. He greeted us simply and warmly: Ahalan Wa Sahlan. Biamaniilla (‘Welcome, under the protection of God’). As I shook hands with him, I replied that we were honoured. The hand of the great leader was unexpectedly soft. At his beckoning, Minister Yokoyama sat on the left side of His Majesty, and Mr. Mitsuchi and I sat facing His Majesty, Mr. Mitsuchi on the left side and I on the right. Beside His Majesty’s seat was a small desk. On this desk were a telephone, a pair of binoculars, and a Qur’an.
His Majesty was a large man, about 183 cm in height. Dressed in a black Mishlah, his body looked robust, with a majestic, regal presence. On his head he wore a black Iqal with a golden braid coiled around it. His red and white Gotrah was humble, its design and material being exactly the same as those of the one worn by our driver Shakir. Under the Mishlah he wore a Kuftaan, which reminded me of the school uniform worn by the students of Al-Azhar University. He wore no shoes, but instead wore thick grey socks. I have heard that His Majesty disliked bad smells. For that reason, perhaps, he wore a perfume that hung in the air.
His features were as follows. His face was long, and larger than those of most Arab men. His moustaches and beard were strikingly thick and dark; such luxuriance is rarely found, even in the Arab world. The habitual expression in which his mouth was set aroused nostalgic feelings among those who lived in the desert. His eyes were large, and appeared a little unclear. The white foggy star in his left eye, and his amputated left middle finger indicated that he was no stranger to the harshness of battle. He wore a large ring on his right little finger. Under his left eye was a mole. His skin was brown and healthy-looking. His voice was low and warm. He wore a calm smile on his face as he spoke to us.
The language he spoke was close to standard Arabic. There were some parts of it that we could not understand, however, because of his use of a Syrian pronunciation and his regional dialect.
His Majesty mainly conversed with the minister. At times he directed a few words to me, to which I responded directly. Many topics were discussed in the hour-long meeting: religion, international relations, politics, economics, and so on. Throughout the meeting, His Majesty’s voice never lost its friendly and respectful tone. When the topic of conversation changed to subjects such as business negotiations, national systems, and international relationships, he smiled and called on his advisers for confirmation [Eijirou Nakano, Arabia Kikou, pp. 196–9].
About the issue of the Saudi national system, the King said:
Shariah is the one and only law in Saudi Arabia, before which every man is equal. It is under this law that the most perfected form of democracy lies. The democracy of the Western nations is based on enforced law. On the other hand, Shariah is the holy law given by Allah, and, consequently, pious Muslims could have no powerful or compelling feelings against this law. We have no enforced law to implement national defence either. The Emir of each Kabila (tribe) is responsible for settling problems in his region. The result is the peaceful situation you see today.
About international relations, the King said:
We affirm that by all means we want to keep friendly relationships with all the neighbouring nations as well as with other powerful nations. We prefer not to take the sides of Germany and Italy or Britain, the USA, and France. As for Japan, we think of it and respect it as a powerful empire of the east. We certainly do not support communism. At present, there is no need on our part to repress communism politically, though, for its philosophy cannot possibly infiltrate into our country.
About the Jews, the King spoke with emphasis:
Jews had been influential in developing that characteristic of European society whereby the weak become victims of the strong. To the Palestinians, our brothers, we are here to lend a helping hand. We have mentioned this in our last handwritten letter sent to President Roosevelt of the USA. The Jews disturb world peace, and therefore we would like the support of Japan in this struggle [ibid., pp. 199–201; The King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Foundation translated this book into Arabic in 1997 for its Research and Archives (DARAH)].
The Era of the Sons of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (1953–1998/1372–1419H)
Diplomatic negotiations between Japan and Saudi Arabia started before the Second World War. They were, however, discontinued on the outbreak of war. After the war, in 1951 (1370H), Saudi Arabia signed a peace treaty with Japan, which took effect in March 1954 (7-1373H). Japan immediately resumed negotiations with Saudi Arabia, and in June 1955 (10-1374H) an official diplomatic relationship was established between the two countries.
In 1956 (1375H) the Japanese government appointed HE Yutaka Tsuchida, ambassador to Egypt, to serve concurrently as minister to Saudi Arabia. In January 1958 the Saudi government established an embassy in Tokyo, appointing HE Asad Faqih as ambassador. To this the Japanese government responded by the promotion of Minister Tsuchida to ambassadorial rank.
In January 1966 (10-1385H) a Japanese Embassy was finally established in Jeddah, with HE Hideji Tamura as chargé d’affaires ad interim. Ever since then, both countries have maintained a good diplomatic relationship.
In October 1984 (1-1405H) the Japanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia was relocated from Jeddah to Riyadh. At the same time, the Japanese Consulate General was established in Jeddah. The Embassy, reconstructed in the diplomatic quarter of Riyadh, opened in August 1985 (11-1405H). Currently (June 1998/2-1419H), there are 23 staff working there, including the ambassador. As of April 1998 (12-1418H), the number of Japanese citizens living in Saudi Arabia is 882, most of them living in Riyadh or Jeddah. There are about 50 Japanese enterprises with businesses in Saudi Arabia (April 1998/12-1418H).
Exchanges of Visits by High Officials between Saudi Arabia and Japan Since the 1960s (1379–1389H) when the embassies of the two countries opened, the exchange visits of Saudi and Japanese high officials have multiplied, especially since the oil crisis of 1973 (1393H). A list of the main high officials who have participated in such visits on either side is appended at the end of this chapter as an Appendix to Chapter 15.
Within this list, the visits that deserve special comment are the Royal and Imperial visits between the two countries.
HM King Faisal’s visit to Japan in May 1971 (3-1391H) was warmly welcomed by the Japanese Imperial Family, government, and people. As the first visit of a King of Saudi Arabia to Japan, it significantly advanced and strengthened the relationship between the two countries [see Bulletin of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, No. 30, 1971 (1391H), Tokyo].
Correspondingly, on 28 February 1981 (23-4-1401H), HIH Crown Prince Akihiko and HIH Crown Princess Michiko of Japan (now HIM the Emperor and HIM the Empress) made the first Imperial visit to Saudi Arabia, which the Saudi Royal family, government, and people warmly welcomed in their turn [Bulletin of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, No. 93, 1981(1401H)].
The visit of HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako to Saudi Arabia 13 years after their parents’ visit to Saudi Arabia was also welcomed warmly by Saudi Arabia, strengthening the bond between two countries [Bulletin of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, No. 175, 1994 (1415H)].
From 21 to 23 October 1998 (Rajab 1–3, 1914H) HRH Crown Prince ‘Abd-Allah visited Japan for the first time and met with the Japanese Emperor Akihito, Crown Prince Naruhito, Prime Minister Obuchi and other leading figures in political, governmental and business circles. The Crown Prince held fruitful talks with them about co-operation between the two countries. The Japanese general public was able to sense some of the characteristics of the Crown Prince, such as his nobility, dignity and gentleness, through their presentation in the Japanese mass media. On the occasion of this visit, Crown Prince ‘Abd-Allah opened the splendid new Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, which is located in the centre of Tokyo, on 22 October (Rajab 2). The new embassy is expected to be a centre for further promoting bilateral co-operation between Saudi Arabia and Japan long into the twenty-first century.
Cultural and Educational Exchanges between Saudi Arabia and Japan The history of cultural and educational exchanges between Saudi Arabia and Japan is as follows:
Activities of the Saudi Government Participation in Exposition’70 in Osaka The International Exposition’70 was held in Osaka for 6 months from 14 March 1970 (7-1-1390H) onwards. Saudi Arabia participated in the exhibition by displaying the Saudi Pavilion. The pavilion had marble pillars whose design reflected the forms assumed by the flow of crude oil. In its corner was a Qiswa cloth for covering the Ka’ba, with its magnificent Islamic patterns. It is reported that the splendid display of the pavilion attracted and impressed thirty thousand visitors each day.
HE ‘Abid Muhammad Salih Shaik, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, and many other guests from Saudi Arabia also attended the exhibition.
Assistance Given to the Publication of a Japanese Translation of the Qur’an There are several Japanese translations of the Qur’an, but most of them up to 1961 were translated by non-Muslims, using English translations of the Qur’an as sources.
In 1961 (1381H) Mr Ryoichi Mita, a Japanese Muslim, went to Makkah to make a Japanese translation of the Qur’an, and stayed there for several years. After he returned to Japan he completed his translation in May 1971 (3-1391H). The next year, he published the first direct Japanese translation of the Qur’an, printed in parallel with the Arabic text.
The Muslim World League (RABITA) in Makkah fully supported this project. RABITA gave accommodation to Mr. Mita during his stay in Makkah. It assisted him in the translation process, checking the Arabic version word for word, and supplied all the expenses of publication. RABITA also sent this Japanese translation of the Qur’an to the principal libraries and organizations all over Japan [see the ‘Preface’ to the Japanese Translation of the Qur’an, Japan Muslim Association, Tokyo, 1992 (1412H)].
Support for the Japan Muslim Association and Other Islamic Organizations in Japan The Japan Muslim Association, established in 1952 (1371H), in 1968 (1388H) became the first Muslim organization in Japan that was approved and registered as a religious corporation by the Japanese government. Today the association has around 150 members, most of them Japanese. The members are all Muslims, who pay an annual membership fee and are registered in the members’ list.
The association is managed by a president (currently Mr Khalid Higuchi) and directors (currently eleven in number), who are selected by election in a general meeting every two years. It has an office at Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, and has four branches, in Riyadh, Cairo, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
One of the objects of the association is to send young members to study in Muslim countries. The number of such members has reached sixty already. On returning to Japan, most of them have taken up active roles in the teaching profession or in private enterprises.
The association’s activities are proposed and decided by the monthly board meetings and carried out by volunteers. Members who have studied in Egypt and Saudi Arabia usually take the initiative in these activities. The main activities of the association are:
The camp is held on a weekend in mid-October every year. Participants gather on Saturday evening and break up on Sunday afternoon. The programme includes: lessons on how to read the Qur’an and how to pray, speeches by individuals on their life experiences, an Islamic quiz, a barbecue party, and so on.
Some 20 per cent of the total 8,200 sq. m. of the graveyard site has been developed. The association use this land for burial (50 bodies have been buried there to date); however, there is not enough space. The association is planning to develop other areas.
The association also reprints 2,000 copies of the Japanese translation of the Qur’an every two years, for the benefit of its members and the public. This Qur’an was translated in 1971 (1391H) by Hajj Omar Mita, ex-President of the association. It has been reviewed and revised by scholars among the members. Other publications of the association include an Introduction to Islam, 200 Hadith, and so on.
For example, the Inter-religious Gathering of Prayer for World Peace was held in Kyoto for 3 days from 2 August 1997 (29-3-1418H). Around forty foreign representatives from various religions in the world took part in this gathering. As representatives of Islam Dr ‘Abd-Allah bin Saleh Al-Obaid, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Saudi Arabia; Dr Ahmed Omar Hashim, President of Al-Azhar University, Egypt; and Sheikh Ahmed Kuftara, the Grand Mufti of Syria, participated in this major assembly, with its two thousand participants. A representative of the Japan Muslim Association also joined the Islamic group.
Dr ‘Abd-Allah Al-Obaid delivered an address on ‘East–West Religious Dialogue and Mutual Understanding’ at the first session of the assembly. The audience were very much impressed with his speech, for they could understand from it that Islam is a religion of love that only seeks peace in the world and to avoid wars and conflicts with anyone, whatever their races, religions and nations.
The Japan Muslim Association undertakes a wide range of Islamic activities, such as proselytization, publicity work, the education of Muslims, the performance of religious ceremonies, promoting friendship with Muslim countries, and so forth.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Centre of Japan was established in Tokyo in 1964 (1384H). It was registered as a religious corporation in 1980 (1400H). It has an office at Ohara, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, and undertakes religious activities. It has about fifty members, most of whom are non-Japanese.
The Saudi government, through RABITA and Daar Al-Ifta, has been giving financial aid and has been sending da’is (propagandists) to the Islamic organizations in Japan. The Saudi government has also been sending Saudi Islamic scholars and missionaries to help spread Islam in Japan [Introduction to the Japan Muslim Association, 1998 (1419H), Tokyo].
Establishment of the Arabic Islamic Institute Arabic Islamic Institute was established in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, in 1982 (1402H). It is a branch school of the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, and its purpose is to spread Islam and the Arabic language and culture. The university sent several instructors to set up the Institute in Tokyo.
After several years the Institute was transferred to a building in Minato-ku, Tokyo. This was the building that was used as the embassy of Saudi Arabia. At the end of 1996 (1417H) the building was closed for renovation. The new building, with four floors plus two basements, was completed in July 1998 (3-1419H).
Around a thousand people can pray at the same time in the new Institute, which will be a centre dedicated to introducing Saudi Arabia and Islamic culture to Japanese people.
The GCC’s Youth Festival in Tokyo
The GCC’s youth festival was held in Tokyo for one week from 19 September 1985 (5-1-1406H). The cultural mission consisted of about four hundred young people from the GCC’s six countries, including young people from Saudi Arabia. It was headed by HRH Prince Faisal bin Fahd, the President of Youth Welfare, Saudi Arabia, who visited Japan on this occasion.
Their traditional folk-dances were performed and their drawings, pictures, traditional dresses, antiques, and works of art were displayed in the festival. Numerous Japanese visitors were attracted to these displays.
The Visits of Saudi Sports Teams to Japan
In December 1992 (6-1413H), the Saudi national soccer team, headed by HRH Sultan bin Fahd, Vice President of the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, attended the Asian Soccer Championship held at Hiroshima City. The Saudi team took second place.
In November 1995 (5-1416H) a GCC youth table tennis team, including participants from Saudi Arabia, visited Japan and had friendly matches with Japanese teams.
The Saudi judo team (in March 1997/11-1417H) and the Saudi karate team (in December 1997/8-1418H) also visited Japan to have friendly matches with Japanese teams.
Activities of the Japanese Government Sending Japanese Sports Specialists to Saudi Arabia In October 1961 (5-1381H), Mr Megawa, a judo player of the sixth grade of Kodoukan, was sent to Faraha School in Jeddah. Mr Hiranuma, a judo player of the fifth grade, was sent to replace Mr Megawa the following year.
From the end of November to the beginning of December 1962 (7-1382H), a tour ship carrying a fair consisting largely of commercial samples, the Sakura-Maru, anchored in the port of Jeddah. Many Saudi visitors enjoyed visiting this sample fair on the ship, not only to see Japanese commercial samples but also to see the arts of the Tea Ceremony and of Japanese dancing.
For eight years from 1986 (1406H) Mr Matagorou Toriumi, a judo player of the sixth grade of Kodoukan, resided in Riyadh to teach judo to Saudi people. For the first four years he had a contract with the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, Saudi Arabia. For the latter four years, The Japan Foundation (a Japanese governmental organization) supplied him as a judo instructor. He trained many of the Saudi youth in various places in Saudi Arabia and introduced them to the philosophy behind the traditional Japanese martial arts. His efforts were crowned with great success. Not only have several Saudi young people today come to be holders of graded ranks in judo, but judo has in fact become so popular that it is now a part of the regular curriculum in Saudi police schools.
In November 1986 (3-1407H), a group of Japanese youth and nine members of the Japanese Diet were sent to Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. The group consisted mostly of young athletes: a soccer team (21 members), a volleyball team (12 members), a karate team (9 members), a judo team (5 members), and Kumamotoken group (14 members). They ran demonstrations of sports and took part in friendly matches.
In February 1993 (8-1413H), a Japanese traditional martial arts team visited Saudi Arabia and five other countries in the Middle East. The team consisted of 32 specialists in judo, karate, kendo, and aikido. They held demonstrations and trained Saudi players within Saudi Arabia.
In November 1995 (6-1416H), The Japan Foundation sent a Japanese karate specialist to Saudi Arabia. In 1997 (1418H), another judo team visited Saudi Arabia. The frequent visits made by these teams mark the growing popularity of Japanese traditional martial arts in Saudi Arabia.
Establishment of a Japanese Language Course at King Saud University, Riyadh
In 1994 (1415H), a Japanese language course was started in the Faculty of Language and Translation (Asian Languages Section) of King Saud University in Riyadh. The Japanese government has been supplying a language instructor for this course through The Japan Foundation. Around ten Saudi students are enrolled in this course every year.
Exhibitions and Demonstrations introducing Japanese Culture and Japanese Schools in Saudi Arabia
In the past two decades, numerous cultural projects have been organized by The Japan Foundation in Tokyo and the Japanese Embassy in Riyadh. These projects include exhibitions of Japanese architecture (1988/1408H), Japanese culture (1990/1410H), present-day pictorial ‘japanning’ (1993/1414H), modern Japanese posters (1993/1414H), woodcuts (1995/1416H), and flower arrangement (1996/1417H). There was also a demonstration of Japanese drums (1995/1416H).
There are two Japanese schools for Japanese children in Riyadh and Jeddah. The students of the two schools make visits to local schools, where they mingle with Saudi children and undertake intercultural activities.
Saudi Students in Japan and Japanese Students in Saudi Arabia Tokyo Scholarship Programme In 1972 (1392H), the Arabian Oil Company Ltd, Tokyo inaugurated a ‘Tokyo Scholarship Programme’ for new graduates from secondary schools in Saudi Arabia. The goal of these scholarships is to provide suitable Saudi young people with an opportunity to study high technologies and science, etc. at Japanese universities and to promote future understanding between the two countries.
Under this programme, 56 Saudi students now study at universities and Japanese language schools in Japan. Since the inauguration of this programme, 58 Saudi students have graduated from Japanese universities. They are at present working as prominent staff for Saudi government organizations and leading corporations, playing their role as a bridge between Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco also inaugurated a scholarship programme in Japan from 1997 on, aiming at the growing oil market in Japan. Five students from this company are now studying in Japan.
Scholarships from the Japanese Government Every year, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture and Science offers scholarships to three or four Saudi students who want to study in graduate schools in Japan. Applications for these scholarships are handled through the Japanese Embassy in Riyadh.
Scholarships from the Saudi Government :
Scholarships from the Saudi government are offered to Japanese students who want to study Islam or the Arabic language at universities in Saudi Arabia.
Up to the present, about twenty Japanese have studied at Saudi universities. Two Japanese have graduated from Um Al-Qura University in Makkah and two Japanese have graduated from the Islamic University in Madinah.
The Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has sent many Japanese experts to Riyadh for the past 22 years, to work with Saudi colleagues in the establishment and management of the Riyadh Technical Electronics Institute.
The institute, which was inaugurated in September 1993 in northern Riyadh, has laboratories, study rooms, mosques, libraries, refectories, a gymnasium, a swimming-pool, dormitories, a power station and a water purification plant. The campus is an extensive and all-inclusive, almost self-sufficient scientific city.
Every year, around 240 students enter the institute. They complete general studies on industries and technology over the first two years. The third academic year provides them with one elective course. The choices are: automatic control, audio-video, industrial electronics, electronic communication and computer technology.
On 7 July 1996 (21-2-1417H), the first batch of 88 graduates bade farewell to the institute as the firstfruits of the co-operation between the two governments. The commencement ceremony was held in the Institute with the attendance of HE Muhammad al-Dhalan, Governor of the General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training, HE Minoru Tanba, the Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and other distinguished guests [Bulletin of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, No. 186, 1996 (1417H), Tokyo].
Professor Fujiwara, the First Japanese Winner of the King Faisal International Prize In March 1996 (10-1416H), Professor Tetsuro Fujiwara, Professor at Iwate Medical University, Japan, won the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine. He was the first Japanese person to win this distinguished award, often called the Nobel Prize of the Arab World. Professor Fujiwara discovered a remedy for intractable pulmonary disease of premature infants. His discovery made a great contribution to the lowering of the death rate of premature infants suffering from this disease.
Professor Fujiwara’s accomplishment was hailed and much appreciated by all Saudi people, and has played an important role in promoting co-operation between Saudi Arabia and Japan in the field of medicine [Bulletin of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, No.183, 1996 (1416H)].
The Japan–Saudi Arabia Society and the ‘King Fahd Fund for Saudi–Japan Friendship Promotion’ The Japan–Saudi Arabia Society On 25 October 1960 (5-5-1380H), the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society was established in Tokyo to develop friendship and to support cultural exchange between Saudi Arabia and Japan. On the occasion of the society’s opening ceremony in Tokyo, the society was honoured by the attendance of HRH Prince Sultan bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, then Minister of Communications, and now Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Aviation and Inspector-General.
The members of the society are 79 leading Japanese corporations and 11 Japanese oriental scholars (as at June 1998). The membership fee is 100,000 yen for a corporation and 1,000 yen for an individual. Annual dues are a minimum of 40,000 yen for a corporation and 1,000 yen for an individual. The post of honorary chairman is successively occupied by each current Saudi ambassador to Tokyo, and at the time of writing by HE Muhammad Bashir Kurdi. The chairman is currently Mr Keiichi Konaga, President of the Arabian Oil Co. Ltd, Tokyo. The chairman is elected from among the directors. He directs the general management of the society.
The ordinary general meeting of the society is held once a year. At this meeting, the affairs of the society are considered and approved, and annual budgets and accounts are presented. The elections of the directors and auditors are also held at the general meeting. The secretary general appointed by the board of directors is engaged in the affairs of the Society as directed by the chairman. The office is currently located in the office of the Arabian Oil Co. Ltd in Tokyo.
The main activities are as follows:
§ Publication of bimonthly bulletins
To provide access to Arab/Islamic society and culture. These are a valuable source of information for Japanese people wishing to learn about Saudi Arabia.
§ Publication of Arabic/Islam-related books
To provide easy access for the Japanese to Arab/Islamic culture; books that have been published in the past are as follows:
§ Thesis on the Arab People and Culture (1976/1396H)
§ A Japanese translation of Wives of the Prophet (Nisaa Al-Nabiy) (1977/1397H)
§ Practical Arabic Conversation (1979/1399H)
§ Saudi Arabia/Kuwait Guidebook (1982/1402H)
§ Practical Gulf Arabic (1992/1412H).
The other books issued by the Society are also mentioned in the following pages.
§ Arabic language courses
Twice a year, for beginners as well as for intermediate and advanced students. Some 120 students attend each year. The classes are generally held at night, enabling people to attend after school or work. These classes are especially appreciated by people who have plans to move to an Arab country and by students pursuing Arab studies.
§ Co-operation with the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Japan
§ Information centre about Saudi Arabia
The society often answers to questions and provides information about Saudi Arabia and its culture. There are frequent inquiries from educational institutes and the media; there are also occasional personal inquiries.
§ Participation in cultural activities in Saudi Arabia
For example, in the International Book Fair organized by Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in 1992, the society displayed its publications. The society also participates in the Junaidriyah Festival in Riyadh every year.
The King Fahd Fund for Saudi–Japan Friendship Promotion On 15 December 1981 the society held a reception in Tokyo celebrating its twentieth anniversary. At the reception, HE Ibrahim al-Angary, then the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs (now a special adviser to King Fahd), who was the representative of the Saudi government, offered the society a donation of $500,000. This donation was contributed by King Fahd bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (then Crown Prince), who appreciated the society’s activities.
The society then established the ‘King Fahd Fund for Saudi–Japan Friendship Promotion’, which was founded with this donation and donations from member corporations.
The society have published the following books through this fund, and presented them to the principal public libraries and educational organizations all over Japan:
§ A Japanese translation of Sahih Muslim (three volumes), by the Japanese Muslim scholars Professor Yoshiharu Ogasawara, Professor Kasuke Iimori, and Professor Sadamoto Isozaki (issued 1987–1989/1407–1409H). This is the first Japanese translation of a book of Hadith in Japan.
§ A Japanese translation of Daughters of the Prophet (Banat Al-Nabiyy), by Mrs Teruko Tokumasu (1988/1408H). This was published as a sequel to Wives of the Prophet (Nisaa Al-Nabiy), also translated by Mrs Tokumasu in 1977 (1397H).
§ A Japanese translation of Al-Siyaasa, Al-Sharaiiya (by Ibn Taimiya), translated by Professor Takeshi Yukawa and Dr Kou Nakada (1991/1411H).
§ A Japanese translation of The Life of the Prophet (Al-Seera Al-Nabawiyyah, by Mustafa Sebai), translated by Dr Kou Nakada (1993/1413H).
§ The Orthodox Caliphs (Al-Khulafaa Al-Rashiduun) (two volumes), by the Japanese Muslims and lecturers Nobuo Mori and Yoshiharu Kashiharu (1994, 1996/ 1415,1417H), who both graduated from Um al-Quraa University in Makkah.
These publications are highly regarded among scholars and researchers in Japan as valuable resources for Arab and Islamic studies [Outline of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, 1998 (1419H), Tokyo].
Exchanges of Visits by Royal and Imperial Family Members and High Officials between Japan and Saudi Arabia (from October 1960/1380H to October 1998/1419H)
Visits by Members of the Saudi Royal Family and High Officials to Japan
§ Time of Visit Name and Position (at time of visit)
§ 1960/Oct. (1380H) HRH Prince Sultan bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Minister of Communications)
§ 1962/May (1381H) HE Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1965/May (1386H) HE Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1967/Oct. (1387H) HE Muhammad Omar Tawfeeq (Minister of Communications)
§ 1967/Nov. (1387H) HE Hassan al-Mishari (Minister of Agriculture)
§ 1970/Jun. (1390H) HE Sheikh ‘Abid Muhammad Salih Shaikh (Minister of Commerce and Industry)
§ 1970/Jul. (1390H) HE Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1970/Jul. (1390H) HE Dr ‘Abd al-Hadi Tahir (Governor of PETROMIN)
§ 1971/May (1391H) HM King Faisal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ HRH Prince Nawwaf bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Special Adviser to King Faisal)
§ 1972/Feb. (1391H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of State and President of the Central Planning Organization)
§ 1972/May (1392H) HRH Prince Saud al-Faisal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1972/Jun. (1392H) HRH Prince Muhammad al-Faisal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Water)
§ 1973/Feb. (1393H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of State and President of the Central Planning Organization)
§ 1974/Jan. (1394H) HE Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1974/Feb. (1394H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of State and President of the Central Planning Organization)
§ 1974/Jul. (1394H) HE Omar Saqqaf (Minister of State in charge of Foreign Affairs)
§ 1975/Mar. (1395H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of State and President of the Central Planning Organization)
§ 1975/Mar. (1395H) HRH Prince Muhammad bin Fahd bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1975/Mar. (1395H) HRH Prince Saud bin Fahd bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1975/May. (1395H) HE Sheikh Hassan ‘Abd-Allah al-Shaikh (Minister of Education)
§ 1975/Nov. (1395H) HRH Prince Muhammad al-Faisal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Governor of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation)
§ 1976/Mar. (1396H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Planning)
§ 1977/Mar. (1397H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Planning)
§ 1977/Aug. (1397H) HRH Prince Mutib bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Minister of Public Works and Housing)
§ 1977/Sep. (1397H) HRH Prince Nawwaf bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1978/Mar. (1398H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Planning)
§ 1979/Mar. (1399H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Planning)
§ 1980/Mar. (1400H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Planning)
§ 1980/Mar. (1400H) HE Dr ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Shaikh (Minister of Agriculture and Water)
§ 1980/Oct. (1400H) HE ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Quraishi (Governor of SAMA)
§ 1980/Dec. (1401H) HE Dr Fayez Ibrahim Badr (President of the Ports Authority)
§ 1981/Mar. (1401H) HE Dr Sulaiman ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Slaim (Minister of Commerce and Supply)
§ 1981/Oct. (1401H) HE Dr ‘Abd al-Hadi Hassan Tahir (Governor of PETROMIN)
§ 1981/Nov. (1402H) HE Dr Husain ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Jazairi (Minister of Health)
§ 1981/Dec. (1402H) HE Ibrahim ‘Abd-Allah al-Angary (Minister of Labour and Social Affairs)
§ 1982/Jan. (1402H) HE Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1982/Oct. (1402H) HE ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Quraishi (Governor of SAMA)
§ 1982/Dec (1403H) Sheikh Muhammad Ali al-Harkan (Secretary General of the World Muslim League)
§ 1983/Jan. (1403H) HE Ibrahim ‘Abd-Allah al-Angary (Minister of Labour and Social Affairs)
§ 1983/Apr. (1403H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Planning)
§ 1985/May (1405H) HE Engineer ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Zamil (Minister of Industry and Electricity)
§ 1985/Sep. (1406H) HRH Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (President of the General Presidency for Youth Welfare)
§ 1985/Oct. (1406H) HE Hamad al-Sayyari (Governor of SAMA)
§ 1986/Feb. (1406H) HE Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1986/Jun. (1406H) HRH Prince Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Vice Minister of the Interior)
§ 1986/Aug. (1406H) HE Muhammad Ali al-Fayez (Minister of Labour and Social Affairs)
§ 1987/Apr. (1407H) HRH Prince Naif bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Minister of the Interior)
§ 1987/Jul. (1407H) HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1987/Sep. (1408H) HE Muhammad Ali al-Fayez (Minister of Labour and Social Affairs)
§ 1987/Sep. (1408H) HRH Prince ‘Abd-Allah bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud (Secretary General of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu)
§ 1989/Feb. (1409H) HRH Prince Nawwaf bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1989/Jun. (1409H) HRH Prince Fahd bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Vice Governor of the Eastern Province)
§ 1990/Jan. (1410H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources cum Acting Minister of Planning)
§ 1990/Jan. (1410H) HRH Prince ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1990/Nov. (1411H) HRH Prince Nawwaf bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1990/Dec. (1411H) HRH Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (President of the General Presidency for Youth Welfare)
§ 1992/Mar. (1412H) HE Dr Sulaiman ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Sulaim (Minister of Commerce)
§ 1992/May (1412H) HE Dr ‘Abd al-Wahhab ‘Abd al-Salam Attar (Minister of Planning)
§ 1992/Oct. (1413H) HRH Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Vice President of the General Presidency for Youth Welfare)
§ 1993/Jan. (1413H) HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Head of General Intelligence)
§ 1993/Mar. (1413H) HE Dr Muhammad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Shaikh (Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs)
§ 1993/Mar. (1413H) HE Rida Muhammad Said Obaid (Rector, King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz University)
§ 1994/May (1414H) HE Hisham Muhiddin Nazer (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ 1994/Nov. (1415H) HE Engineer ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Zamil (Minister of Industry and Electricity)
§ 1994/Dec. (1415H) HE Dr Bakr ‘Abd-Allah Bakr (Rector, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals)
§ 1996/May (1417H) HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1996/May (1417H) HRH Prince Saud al-Faisal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
§ 1996/Sep. (1417H) HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1996/Nov. (1417H) HE Dr ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Abd-Allah al-Dukhayyil (Rector, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals)
§ 1997/Apr. (1417H) HE Dr Muhammad Ahmad al-Rasheed (Minister of Education)
§ 1997/May (1418H) HE Dr ‘Abd al-Wahhab ‘Abd al-Salam Attar (Minister of Planning)
§ 1997/Aug. (1418H) Dr ‘Abd-Allah Saleh al-Obaid (Secretary General of the Muslim World League)
§ 1997/Dec. (1418H) HH Prince Fahd bin ‘Abd-Allah al-Saud (Assistant to the Minister of Defence and Aviation)
§ 1997/Dec. (1418H) HRH Prince al-Walid bin Talal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ 1998/Mar (1418H) HE Dr Khalid Muhammad al-Angari (Minister of Higher Education)
§ HE Dr ‘Abd-Allah Muhammad al-Faisal (Rector, King Saud University)
§ HE Dr Gazi Obaid Madani (Rector, King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz University)
§ HE Dr ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ‘Abd-Allah al-Dukhayyil (Rector, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals)
§ 1998/Apr. (1419H) HRH Prince Salman bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Governor, Riyadh Province)
§ 1998/May (1419H) HE Sheikh Muhammad Jubair (President of the Majlis al-Shura)
§ 1998/Oct. (1419) HRH Crown Prince ‘Abd-Allah bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
§ HRH Prince Saud al-Faisal bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
§ HE Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-Twaijiri
§ (Assistant Deputy Commander of the National Guard)
§ HE Dr ‘Abd al-Wahhab ‘Abd al-Salam Attar (Minister of Planning)
§ HE Engineer Ali Ibrahim al-Naimi (Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources)
§ HE Dr Hashim ‘Abd-Allah Yamani (Minister of Industry and Electricity)
Visits by Members of the Japanese Imperial Family, High Officials and Missions to Saudi Arabia (from May 1965/1385H to October 1998/1419H)
§ Time of Visit Name and Position (at time of visit)
§ 1965/May (1385H) HE Shinsuke Kishi (ex-Prime Minister)
§ 1966/Feb. (1385H) HE Msajirou Kawashima (Vice President of the Liberal Democratic Party)
§ 1968/Oct. (1388H) HE Estusaburou Shiina (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1970/Sep. (1390H) HE Shinsuke Kishi (ex-Prime Minister)
§ 1971/Jan. (1390H) Arabian Gulf Economic Mission headed by Mr Sohei Nakayama
§ 1973/Apr. (1393H) HE Yasuhiro Nakasone (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1973/Dec. (1393H) HE Takeo Miki (Deputy Prime Minister)
§ 1975/Mar. (1395H) HE Kiichi Miyazawa (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
§ 1976/Jan. (1397H) HE Toshio Koumoto (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1977/Feb. (1397H) Non-Governmental Economic Mission headed by Mr Shigeo Mizuno
§ 1977/Sep. (1397H) Energy Research Group Mission of members of the Japan Democratic Socialist Party
§ 1978/Jan. (1398H) HE Sunao Sonoda (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
§ 1978/Aug. (1398H) Mission of the members of the Oil Issue Research Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party
§ 1978/Sep. (1398H) HE Takeo Fukuda (Prime Minister)
§ 1979/Jul. (1399H) HE Masumi Ezaki (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1980/Feb. (1400H) HE Sunao Sonoda as a special envoy of the Prime Minister
§ 1980/Dec. (1401H) HE Tatsuo Tanaka (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1981/Mar (1401H) HIH Crown Prince Akihito and HIH Crown Princess Michiko
§ 1981/Jun. (1401H) HE Masajuro Shirokawa (Minister of Transport)
§ 1981/Jun. (1401H) HE Tatsuo Tanaka (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1982/Apr. (1402H) Mission of the members of the Financial Research Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party
§ 1982/May (1402H) HE Shintaro Abe (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1982/Jun. (1402H) HE Takeo Fukuda as a special envoy of the Japanese government
§ 1984/Mar. (1404H) Non-Governmental Economic Mission headed by Mr Sohei Nakayama
§ 1984/Sep. (1404H) Mr Toshinobu Wada (President of the Japan National Oil Corporation)
§ 1985/Jul. (1405H) HE Shintaro Abe (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
§ 1986/Jan. (1406H) HE Masayuki Fujio (Chairman of the Policy Affairs Research Council of the Liberal Democratic Party)
§ 1986/Apr. (1406H) HE Michio Watanabe (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1987/Mar. (1407H) A delegation of Keizai Doyukai (the Japan Association of Corporate Executives)
§ 1988/Dec. (1409H) A delegation of Keizai Doyukai (the Japan Association of Corporate Executives)
§ 1990/Aug. (1411H) HE Taro Nakayama (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
§ 1990/Oct. (1411H) HE Toshiki Kaifu (Prime Minister)
§ 1992/Jan. (1412H) HE Kozo Watanabe (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
§ 1992/Jan. (1412H) Mr Kunio Komatsu (President of the Japan National Oil Corporation)
§ 1994/Apr. (1414H) Mr Gaishi Hiraiwa (President of the Keidanren)
§ 1994/Nov. (1415H) HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako
§ 1995/Jan. (1415H) HE Yoshiaki Kibe (President of the Parliamentarians’ League for Japan–Arab Friendship)
§ 1995/Sep. (1416H) HE Tomiichi Murayama (Prime Minister)
§ 1996/Jan. (1416H) HE Keizou Obuchi (a member of the Diet)
§ 1997/Sep. (1418H) HE Takashi Kosugi (Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture)
§ 1997/Nov. (1418H) HE Ryutaro Hashimoto (Prime Minister)
§ 1997/Dec. (1418H) HE Mitsuo Horiuchi (Minister of International Trade and Industry)
Source: Bulletins of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, etc.
§ Japan Muslim Association, Information about the Japan Muslim Association, Tokyo, 1998 (1419H).
§ Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, Outline of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society’, Tokyo, 1998 (1419H).
§ Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, Bulletins of the Japan–Saudi Arabia Society, Tokyo.
§ Komura, Fujio, Nihon Isulamushi (‘History of Islam in Japan’), Nihon Islamu-Renmei, Tokyo, 1988 (1408H).
§ Mita, Ryoichi, Japanese Translation of the Qur’an. Japan Muslim Association, Tokyo,
§ 1972 (1392H).
§ Nakano, Eijirou, Arabia Kikou (‘Travelling in Arabia’), Meijji Shobou, Tokyo, 1944 (1363H).
§ Suzuki, Takeshi, Mekkkah Junrei ki (Hajj), Chiheisha, Tokyo, 1943 (1362H).
§ Tamura, Hideji, Saudi Arabia, Yomiuri Shimbun Publishing Co., Tokyo, 1976 (1396H).