Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is arranging to meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog as early as Friday on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on climate change amid the Middle Eastern nation's war with Hamas, government sources said.
If realized, it would be the first time for the Japanese prime minister to hold talks with an Israeli political leader since Israel was attacked by the Palestinian militant group on Oct. 7, triggering a large-scale conflict, the sources said Wednesday.
Kishida is unlikely to visit Israel during his trip to the Middle East, where he will participate in a summit-level gathering of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP28, in the United Arab Emirates.
At their envisioned talks, Kishida is expected to ask Herzog to work on easing tensions surrounding the Palestinian enclave Gaza, ruled by Hamas, demonstrating Japan's desire for the situation in the Middle East to improve.
Resource-poor Japan has traditionally pursued a "balanced diplomacy" between Israel and Muslim nations in the Middle East as it is highly dependent on crude oil from the region.
There has been widespread speculation that Kishida may visit Israel during his trip to the United Arab Emirates. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Wednesday that the premier has "no plans" to travel there.
The top government spokesman said Kishida is slated to leave Japan for Dubai on Thursday to attend the U.N. conference, scheduled for two days through Saturday.
During a parliamentary session on Wednesday, Kishida said he wants to call on COP28 participants to make more efforts to realize goals set out in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, while Japan has been aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The Paris Agreement sets out a framework to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change by limiting global warming to "well below" 2 C, preferably to 1.5 C, compared with levels before the Industrial Revolution.