Islamic Culture Forum 1- 30th September 1974-Islamic Culture Society (JAPAN)

Basis of Economic Cooperation between the Islamic Countries and Japan
by Abdur Rahman Siddiqi

With the recent dramatic developments, in terms of trade of oil producing Islamic countries which will lead to rapid increase in their financial resources, an unprecedented shift is taking place in the global monetary and financial balance of power. It, therefore, goes without saying that the Muslim World will now be able to participate in the financial and economic decisions of the world with due measure of influence. These Islamic Countries are not going to allow the advanced countries to decide their fate on their behalf. They are now determined to free themselves of dependence on foreign powers in whatever from it may be.

 In brief, these Islamic Countries (which not in very long run would form a block) are now so placed as to be able to play a most constructive and rewarding role for cooperation among themselves and with other countries of the world.

 With the background stated above, the recent Islamic Summit Conference made some definite decisions and emphasized economic development and international cooperation. There are at least three, out of the six economic objectives declared by the Islamic Summit, in which Japan can cooperate:−
  i) Eradication of poverty, disease and ignorance from Islamic countries.
  ii) Ending exploitations of developing countries by the developed countries.
  iii) Regulating the terms of trade between developed countries and developing countries in the matter of supply of raw materials and import of manufactured goods and know-how.

 After the declaration of policy by over 30 Islamic countries, it would be wise for a country industrially advanced but lacking in raw materials such as Japan, to forge closer cooperation with the Islamic countries on a sound basis. It is time to capture the opportunity.

  While all these Islamic countries have at one time or the other suffered at the hands of colonialism, politically, economically and culturally, there is no such problem as far as Japan is concerned. The relationship between Japan and the Islamic countries has been quite cordial in general exept in the case of two Asian Countries. But that is a matter of the past and can be rectified by creating trust and overall cooperation.

  The Islamic countries which are going to be a strong economic power in the long run, deserve full attention of Japan as there are certain advantages available to her. The most important one is that Japan by nature is not an expansionist country. Japan does not try to thrust on or propagate any particular ‘ISM’ to the people. Last but not the least important is the fact that Japan belongs to Asia and, as a nation, shares and respects the spiritual and moral values of the East.

  The Islamic countries of Western Asia and Africa know Japan as a peace-1oving country and have goodwill for her. The Islamic countries regard Japan as an industrial power with advanced techniques and know that it can be adapted to their needs easily.

  There are, unfortunately, certain disadvantages with the Japanese people.Language barrier, though now breaking down, yet poses a difficulty in communication between the foreigners and the Japanese people. A certain section of the people of Japan is getting too much money-minded and materialistic in its approach and the spiritual and moral values of their own, and much less of Islam, are hardly comprehended.

  The Islamic countries, on the other hand, have very high regards for their faith and religion. This requires understanding of their attitude of life by the Japanese people. The earlier the Japanese people rid themselves of the anti-Islamic propaganda such as “Islam means four wives, sword and camel”, the better. It must be recognized that Islam propounds equality, justice and peace. It advocates universal brotherhood, international cooperation for mutual benefits. History is a witness that Islam’s message spread far and wide through trade and commerce. Trade and commerce is, therefore, nothing foreign to Islamic people. It is not necessary to accept an ideology or a religion, only understanding and mutual respect is important.

  Japan has recently stepped up its international economic programmes. This is more evident in the case of South East Asian countries. Japanese planners must have learnt a lot of lessons after coming in contact with the outside world, and surely, they will not repeat the mistakes and wrongs in the Islamic countries as they might have committed elsewhere.Special care would be required on the following lines: -

1. No strings should be attached to the Economic cooperation. Fair and mutually beneficial projects should be located and worked upon. Japan should not look for quick profit by exploiting the urgent desire of the Islamic countries to develop them selves.
2. Enough capital is available with the Islamic countries in general, but some lack in it, In case Japan invests its capita1, it is to be ensured that it does not give the impression of economic colonialization.
3. Used equipment is cheap and may, some times, be preferred by a country. But supply or after-sale service and dispute on spare parts may cause irritation. It is, therefore, better to avoid it and remove the cause of future ill-reputation.
4. High regard should be paid to the religious, moral and national values of the people of Islamic countries. Everybody loves his own culture, customs and manners. It may appear that certain aspect of life in Islamic countries are not as one would like to see it. But one has to accept the faces. Men of character and understanding only be sent to the Islamic countries.
5.Japanese are famous as a friendly people. There is, however, a general complaint against the Japanese firms and industries in foreign countries that their treatment of the local staff is not very exemplary. The locals are barred from policy decisions and, of course, never given salary equal to a Japanese. The promotions are very slow or nil (Ken
shu: vol.50,December1973). Such mistakes continue to accumulate and do the damage in the long run. It must be avoided.
6.Till the relation with the Islamic countries is were established on sound basis, Japan should consider the cooperation on more humanitarian basis and not with quick profit motive.

These are just few points which may be considered for a sound cooperation and to lift Japanese economy to a new plateau of sustained growth. The cooperation between Japan and the “Islamic Block” should be so planned that it may set an example for others. No doubt, the details of relations between Japan and an Islamic country would not be the same in each case. However, a general outline could be reached by contact with the Islamic Summit Secretariat which, l am sure, would welcome Japan’s cooperation in transforming the lot of the people.

It is heartening to find that many private enterprises of Japan and the Islamic countries have already started cooperation talks and some new concerns are being set up for boosting trade and industry. The Japanese Government would do well to make the things easier for crowning these efforts with success. A little support of the Government and removal of undue restrictions could greatly encourage the process.

Japan should now take the initiative by declaring its intentions to help the Islamic countries in their efforts of industrialization and economic upliftment. This would be a matter of pride and pleasure to see that Japan and the Islamic nations are working together for peace and prosperity of the world.

In their efforts for establishing economic cooperation,Japan as well as the Islamic countries should not forget that the large number of students and trainees who have studied at the universities of Japan, have got rigorous training in that country and are now working in various fields in their own countries. No doubt, they can be very effective media of cooperation. They are an asset both for Japan and the Islamic countries.

Brother Abdur Rahman Siddiqi of Pakistan received his higher education in Japan. He possesses rich experience and knowledge about the Japanese land, people and life. We highly value the opinions of our foreign Muslim brothers who in some way or other maintain close relation with Japan and we believe that they would greatly help furthering mutual understanding. Brother Siddlqi's article will be reproduced in the subsequent Japanese edition of Islamic Culture Forum. Many more such views will be most welcome