Japanese Prime Minister Cancels Iranian Visit Under Pressure from U.S.

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would be leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in early May, the world braced for the impact on relations between the international community and Iran.

The return of sanctions for Iran has meant companies are pulling out, not willing to risk losing the ability to do business with the U.S. It also appears to be impacting diplomatic relations with Iran, as Japan recently cancelled its visit to Iran.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not be visiting Iran this summer. It would have been the first visit by a Japanese leader in over 40 years and would have been part of Abe’s scheduled tour through the Middle East in July, according to reports by the Kyodo News.

Motosada Matano, a spokesperson for the Japanese Prime Minister’s office, denied the reports and indicated that nothing had been decided about Abe’s travel plans.

Japan and other U.S. allies are urged by the Trump administration to stop buying Iranian crude oil entirely by November 4. Those that do not are likely to face issues regarding U.S. sanctions. Previously, waivers had to been offered to some allies for limited amounts to be purchased, but the administration indicated that those waivers would not be available this time.

The U.S. continues to try to isolate Iran, particularly in terms of its oil exports. The Iranian regime uses its funds to continue its military operations throughout the Middle East, which have led to further destabilizing of the region.

The Japanese government has told the U.S. that it is not likely going to be able to reduce its Iranian oil imports much further without risking its own economy. The two countries have years of stable ties, in large part due to Japan’s need for Iranian oil. Still, there appears to be an effort made to not antagonize the U.S. on this issue, since it is clear that Iran is a target of this administration.

Others question the U.S. stance in light of their own energy needs, and it is clear that the sanctions are likely to impact more than just the Iranian economy. The Iranian resistance have given their support for the U.S. hard-liner policy, noting that the regime is already weakened by Iranian protests and that continued economic pressure is likely to bring them back to the negotiation table, this time for a better deal than the JCPOA. At the same time, the resistance continues to urge the Iranian people to fight for regime change and their human rights.

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