The Foreign Ministry has given diplomat Naofumi Hashimoto, chief of the Representative Office of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, the title of ambassador in charge of Palestinian affairs.
It is an extraordinary step for a diplomat in charge of an area that Japan has not yet recognized as a state to be designated as an ambassador.
The new title, bestowed Tuesday, does not carry extraordinary and plenipotentiary representative powers equivalent to those of the Japanese ambassador to the United States, for instance, but the title will enable him to engage in diplomatic activities more smoothly, sources said.
Hashimoto was formerly deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Iraq.
Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba conveyed his readiness to confer the title on Hashimoto when he paid a visit to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salem Fayyad earlier this month.
For both Arab states and Israel, Japan has been generally considered neutral in Mideast peace talks.