• Kyodo News


Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Saturday he expects a new government in Egypt to be formed democratically, following President Hosni Mubarak’s sudden resignation.

“We hope Egypt will play an even more constructive role in the Middle East,” Kan told reporters at his official residence. “I want to salute the fact that protesters’ peaceful activities have led to a change in government.”

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told reporters in Moscow, where he is meeting Russian officials, that Japan expects a stable new government to soon be established in Egypt.

“Japan continues to attach importance to its relationship with Egypt and is eager to strengthen it. We will keep offering various forms of cooperation to the country,” he said.

Since Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said Friday in a televised speech that Mubarak had stepped down, Tokyo has been assessing the situation in the country, especially considering the safety of Japanese living there, government officials said.

The government will pay close attention to how events in Egypt unfold, and particularly to the possibility that protests could spread to other parts of the Middle East and affect Japan’s crude oil imports, the officials said.

There are currently no Japanese tourists in Egypt, but several hundred Japanese nationals are believed to be living in the country.

Throughout the Egyptian protests, Tokyo worried that Islamic extremists may emerge as a major force.

“We cannot deny the possibility that Egypt, a major power in the Middle East, may review its cooperative approach toward the United States and start taking a hostile attitude toward Israel,” a Foreign Ministry source said.

To help prevent such a scenario, Japan will consider specific ways to support the formation of a stable administration in Egypt. “Coordination with the U.S. is even more important (to this end),” a government source said.

Most Japanese companies operating in Egypt have said they will keep monitoring developments and communicating with local staff. While some firms have decided to resume operations at offices and plants in the country, most companies still have measures in place, including the evacuation of Japanese expatriates and bans on business trips to Egypt.

“The reason for the protests has gone, so we hope things will start calming down, but we’re not optimistic,” said an official at a major trading house.

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