Like Japan, many countries, including the US and France, as well as some traditionally pro-Polisario ones, have recently voiced support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan
Rabat – The Japanese ambassador to Rabat, Takuji Hanatani, has reiterated his country’s support for the UN-led process to solve the Western Sahara question, saying that it is the most feasible option.
Hanatani, whose comments came during a meeting yesterday, August 8, with Habib El Mali, the speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives, said that Japan’s position on Western Sahara, which favors the UN initiative and Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, has “always been constant and unchanged.”
As an important trade partner—Morocco is the second African destination of Japanese goods and investments— Ambassador Hanatani said Tokyo seeks to consolidate commercial and diplomatic ties with Rabat. This, he argued, means that his country “has never supported or recognized” the Polisario Front.
The Japanese ambassador spoke at length about the promising prospects of bilateral cooperation with Morocco. He said that 68 companies are currently present in the Moroccan market and many more plan to invest in the North African country.
In response, El Malki thanked the Japanese ambassador for his country’s steadfast support for the UN-led initiative in Western Sahara. He pointed out that Morocco is also a firm supporter of the UN-led negotiations to end the Western Sahara “artificial conflict.” Morocco, El Malki explained, has traditionally favored dialogue and negotiations over military hostilities.
The remarks come against the background of a controversy in the Morocco-Japan relations after a Polisario delegation attended the Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development (TICAD) meeting in October of last year. The episode fueled speculation about Japan recognizing the Polisario-declared state in Western Sahara.
But Tokyo has since relentlessly denied any formal links with the Polisario leadership. During a visit to Rabat in December of last year, Taro Kono, the Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister, said that his country “in no way… recognizes” the separatist front in Western Sahara.
Meanwhile, such statements of support for Morocco’s Western Sahara stance may comfort the Polisario leadership in its conviction that the sympathy and support of the most influential voices in the international community have noticeably been swinging in Morocco’s favor.
The separatist front’s leadership has recently declared being in preparations for an “inevitable war” with Morocco. One reason for the declaration of potential war , according to the group’s leaders, is the perception that Morocco is gathering significant support for its Western Sahara stance.
Like Japan, many countries, including the US and France, as well as some traditionally pro-Polisario ones, have recently voiced support for Morocco’s Autonomy Plan.
The broad consensus is that the Moroccan initiative, which is reflected in the UN plan for lasting settlement, is the surest and most feasible route towards a sustainable resolution of the decades-long conflict.