With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Iran, Japan is aiming to leverage their traditionally amicable ties to help de-escalate tensions in the Middle East — a critical region for his resource-poor country.

One important aspect of those ties, which date back to 1929 and mark their 90th anniversary this year, is trade in oil. Iran has been among the major exporters of the energy resource to Japan, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Abe arrived in Tehran on Wednesday evening for a bilateral summit with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The two-day visit through Thursday is the first trip to the country by a sitting Japanese leader in more than four decades. It also comes as U.S. President Donald Trump's hard-line stance on Tehran has prompted the Japanese government and companies to take a fresh look at their approaches to the Middle Eastern country.