TOKYO – The moment Israel’s Ambassador to Japan Eli Cohen has been waiting for since he landed in Tokyo a year ago finally arrived Tuesday, as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, accompanied by four of his aides, arrived at Cohen’s official residence for a concert and an Israeli-style dinner.
“As soon as I became ambassador I began looking into how I may bring Koizumi to the ambassador’s residence,” Cohen said. “We gathered intelligence and found out he enjoys classical music very much, especially piano and violin. We worked on this for about a year, until it finally worked out.”
A visit by a head of state to the residence of any Israeli ambassador is considered a rarity, especially when it comes to a reserved country, such as Japan and its busy prime minister.
However, the embassy staff learned that most of his evenings are free, as Koizumi is still single.
The event included a concert in honor of the distinguished guest, performed by Israeli musicians Sergei Nakariakov (trumpet) and Sasha Toperich (piano) and a dinner that included servings of some of Israel’s most popular dishes, such as stuffed grape leaves, Kube soup and Falafel.
Embassy spokesman Gil Heskel told Ynet Koizumi enjoyed the delicacies prepared by the ambassador’s wife, Tzviya Cohen.
“He drank Israeli wine and was in high spirits,” he said.
Word of the event was leaked to the Japanese media, and dozens of camera crews positioned themselves in front of the ambassador’s residence to cover the event.
Cohen said that upon the evening’s conclusion Koizumi told him he has much respect for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
“He told me he would welcome Sharon whenever the Israeli prime minister would decide to visit Japan,” he said.
Recently Koizumi and his foreign minister have extended Sharon a number of invitations to visit Japan, but an official visit is yet to be scheduled.
Cohen said he has urged Israeli officials to increase their efforts to organize such a visit.