Japanese deputy FM tours Israeli field hospital

Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Makiko Kikuta toured the Israeli army’s medical clinic in the city of Minami-Sanriko.

Kikuta said that the good relationship between Israel and Japan will be strengthened due to the arrival of the medical delegation to help in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March.

“Your excellent work here, which was impossible to ignore in media reports throughout Japan, is very much appreciated by us and the Japanese people,” Kikuta said during Monday’s tour. “Your success and the cooperation that you have been able to establish with local medical officials will create an opening for additional delegations in the future.”

Kikuta added that she recognized many members of the Israeli army’s medical delegation due to the wide media coverage the delegation has received on Japanese television broadcasts.

During her visit, Kikuta was interested in learning about the patients who have come to the clinic and asked to hear about the medical issues they are facing as well as the care they are receiving.

Kikuta praised the Israeli medical team for being the first to offer aid to the Japanese people and promised to tell other Japanese government officials about what she saw during the visit.

Groups protest Iran FM’s Vienna visit

As Iran began a massive military exercise in the Persian Gulf, Jewish groups protested the impending visit of Iran’s foreign minister to Vienna.

Manoucher Mottaki is scheduled to travel to Vienna on Sunday, where he will be hosted by his Austrian counterpart, Michael Spindelegger.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Thursday protested the impending visit.

“It is incomprehensible to me how Austria can warmly welcome one of the most senior officials of a regime which openly calls for Israel’s destruction, organizes conferences on Holocaust denial, and consistently abuses human rights on a horrific scale,” Wiesenthal Center Israel director Efraim Zuroff wrote in a letter of protest to the Austrian ambassador to Israel, Michael Rendi.

“The only reason that Teheran has been able to continue its nuclear program, its threats to destroy Israel, and total disregard for human rights is because of the failure of the world’s democracies to apply stringent sanctions against the fanatic Iranian regime. The fact that an anti-Semite like Mottaki will be a welcome guest in Vienna constitutes an abysmal moral failure with potentially-genocidal implications, which raises the painful question of what, if anything, Austria has learned from its Holocaust past,” he wrote.

The Stop the Bomb coalition, which has announced a protest rally at the announced photo session and news conference with Mottaki and Spindelegger, condemned what it called in a news release “the courting of this prominent figure of Tehran’s anti-Semitic regime; a regime, which organizes Holocaust denial conferences as a part of its foreign policy; a regime that threatens Israel with annihilation and does everything to achieve the means.”

“Again and again, Austria proves to be a most reliable friend of the Iranian regime, both economically and politically,” Stop the Bomb spokeswoman Simone Dinah Hartmann said. “The reception of the Iranian foreign minister is an unfortunate political upgrade for the largely isolated regime and thus knowingly undermines the international efforts to exert pressure on the Iranian regime.”

In recent months, the United States and Israel have increased their presence in the Persian Gulf, where Iran began its war games on Thursday.