Iran’s Rouhani Visits Japan With an Eye on Trade

Says he understands Japan's decision to join US-led Gulf fleet

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani became the first Iranian president in 19 years to visit Japan this week, a visit which is causing a lot of speculation that he might be trying to have Japan act as an intermediary in ongoing diplomatic struggles with the US.

The more obvious reason, however, is their mutual interest in trade. Historically Japan is one of the largest buyers of Iran’s oil, and would continue to be, except that the US demanded Japan stop.

Still, it’s a trade both nations would prefer to see resumed, and with other economic powers like China continuing to buy from Iran, there is likely a sense that Japan could find a way to keep trading without US permission.

Whether such an opportunity is to present itself, Iran clearly wants to make it clear there are no hard feelings toward Japan, and that their business is still welcomed. Rouhani also downplayed Japan’s decision to participate in a US-led Gulf fleet protecting tankers, saying they understand Japan’s intentions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.