Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa on Friday called on Israel to pause its war against Hamas so that aid can be delivered to the Gaza Strip, as the Middle Eastern country continues air and ground attacks despite growing and widespread demands for a humanitarian truce.
Kamikawa also vowed Japan will deliver about $65 million in additional aid for civilians in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave facing a severe humanitarian crisis under siege by Israel, according to her ministry, after announcing $10 million assistance last month.
During a meeting with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Tel Aviv, Kamikawa said that all parties are called upon to act in accordance with international law, and hostages held by Hamas should be freed immediately, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Kamikawa, the first Japanese minister to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on the Jewish state, and Cohen agreed to work together on efforts to tamp down tensions in the escalating war as soon as possible, the ministry said.
The $65 million aid pledge to Gaza was made at talks between Kamikawa and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki in Ramallah in the West Bank later that day, according to the ministry.
Kamikawa said Tokyo's support for a two-state solution for establishing an independent Palestine state alongside Israel to resolve the longstanding conflict, is "unchanged," and affirmed with Malki that they will cooperate toward its realization, the ministry added.
Kamikawa's four-day trip to the Middle East from Thursday, which also takes her to Jordan, comes as Israel has been expanding its air and ground attacks on the Palestinian enclave in retaliation for the Islamist group's onslaught and has ruled out a cease-fire.
So far, the war has claimed over 10,000 Palestinian and Israeli lives, mostly in Gaza.
Japan has been highly dependent on crude oil imports from the Middle East and has traditionally maintained friendly relations with Arab countries as well as Israel, which has been strongly backed by Tokyo's key security ally, the United States.
Kamikawa, who took up the post in mid-September, has said stability in the region is crucial for Japan and has pledged $10 million in emergency relief for civilians in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Tokyo has condemned Hamas for its "terror attack" last month that led to the ongoing large-scale military clash. However, it has refrained from criticizing Israel's fierce bombardments, viewed as disproportionate by an increasing number of nations.
Kamikawa is scheduled to chair a two-day foreign ministerial meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations from Tuesday in Tokyo, where recent developments in the Israel-Hamas conflict are expected to be discussed.