When Arab News arrived in Japan

Ali Itani, region head for Japan of Arab News, Faisal J Abbas, the paper’s editor-in-chief, and Abe Shinzo, the Japanese Prime Minister in Riyadh. (AN)
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Updated 20 April 2020

When Arab News arrived in Japan

  • In a first for a media outlet in the Arab world, we launched an online edition in Japanese
  • The launch took place in Tokyo on Oct. 21, 2019, the day before Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement

TOKYO: On Oct. 21, 2019, Arab News did something no other media outlet from the Arab world has done: Launch a dedicated online edition in Japanese, as part of its ongoing global expansion.

The launch, which took place in Tokyo the day before the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito, was a reflection of the cordial business, trading and cultural relations between Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The news website, www.arabnews.jp, which is available in both Japanese and English, focuses on enabling an exchange of information between Japan and the Arab world in a number of fields, including business, current affairs, and arts and culture.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Kono Taro, the Japanese minister of defense, said: “It will be good to have news in Japanese so many Japanese can read about the Arab world.

“We need to know what people in the Middle East are actually thinking, what is happening on a daily basis, and we didn’t have a source for that, but now Arab News is in Japan.”

Kono reacted with great encouragement when Faisal J. Abbas, the editor-in-chief of Arab News, raised the idea of a Japanese edition of the newspaper when he met Kono, at the time the minister of foreign affairs, for an interview in July, 2019. Japan hosted the G20 last year, before a historic handover of the presidency to Saudi Arabia for 2020. The Kingdom is the first Arab and Islamic country afforded the honor.

The Japanese edition of Arab News is the first international edition published in a language other than English, and the second after the successful launch of Arab News Pakistan edition. The launches are in line with what Abbas described as “part of our more digital, more global direction.”

“Japan is a long-time, reliable strategic partner and friend,” Majid Al-Qasabi, the Saudi minister for commerce and investment, said during the launch in Tokyo.

“Since 1955, business has been great between the two countries. We appreciate all the cooperation, the partnerships and the business with the Japanese community. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a special relationship, especially the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, with the new Emperor.

“We hope that Japan will have a fruitful future and I would like to congratulate Arab News; this is a great opportunity, a moment in history.”

Koike Yuriko, the first female governor of Tokyo, also congratulated Arab News at the launch of the Japanese edition. She is no stranger to the Middle East and the Arab world: she spent five years in Cairo in the 1970s, and studied Arabic at the American University in the Egyptian capital, graduating in sociology.

Less than three months after its launch, Arab News Japan was quoted by Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu during a press briefing. He cited a special report by the newspaper titled “How Arabs view Japan,” which was based on a survey conducted by Arab News in conjunction with YouGov. The report, which asked more than 3,000 Arabs in 18 countries for their views and perspectives on Japan, was widely circulated in the Japanese media.

Arab News Japan was also in a unique position when former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn fled from Japan to Lebanon while facing allegations of financial improprieties in his business activities. It was able to deliver regular updates and reports about the case, including exclusive interviews carried out in Lebanon, to the Japanese people in their own language.

This year began with a landmark visit by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to Saudi Arabia to discuss matters of State with King Salman in Riyadh and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in AlUla.

Arab News produced extensive coverage of the three-day visit to the region, including a special edition printed to mark the occasion. In addition, the newspaper was honored when the prime minister personally thanked the editor in chief for the launch of the Japanese edition during a private meeting, at which Abe was presented with a special hand-drawn cover in Japanese welcoming him to the Kingdom.

• Ali Saleh Itani is the region head for Japan at Arab News and oversees ANJP.

 


Arab News post-debate panelists: No clear winner between Biden and Trump

Updated 30 September 2020

Arab News post-debate panelists: No clear winner between Biden and Trump

  • Arab News correspondents Ray Hanania and Ephrem Kossaify, joined by veteran Arab American journalists Dalia Al-Aqidi and Warren David

 

CHICAGO: An Arab News panel of four distinguished Arab-American journalists and writers concluded Tuesday evening that there was “no clear winner” in the first of three debates between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Trump and Biden took the stage in a 90-minute sparring match held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and moderated by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.
Arab News panelists included Dalia Al-Aqidi, a former congressional candidate in Minnesota and award-winning international journalist and commentator covering foreign affairs; and Warren David, president of ArabAmerica.com, a networking website that disseminates events, news, music and culture.

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AS IT HAPPENED: Trump, Biden in heated and chaotic presidential debate

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The discussion was moderated by Arab News New York correspondent Ephrem Kossaify, who has covered American elections since 2004, interviewing former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
It was emceed by Ray Hanania, a veteran Chicago City Hall political writer who is Arab News’s US special correspondent and columnist.
“I don’t think anybody won,” Al-Aqidi said. “I don’t think this debate made any impact on undecided voters … It wasn’t a debate. It was boring at one point. So I don’t think there was a winner.”
David said the president was “bullying” during the debate. “Trump didn’t follow the rules of the presidential debate, and I think Biden somehow won because Trump was out of control,” David added.
Kossaify said: “We’ve never seen a debate like this one. It was more of a brawl than a debate. There was hope that somehow we’d rise above the chaos tonight, but I don’t think we really did. It was very chaotic throughout.”
Hanania noted that Biden called Trump many names, including “liar”, “clown” and “racist,” while the president spent much time interrupting Biden as he responded to questions, to the point where Wallace reprimanded Trump for violating the rules that were agreed upon by his campaign not to interrupt.
“But Biden did something no one expected. He didn’t stumble … They brought up he was too old to be president, and did he have the mental capacity. He proved he does,” Hanania said.
“Trump on the other hand, I don’t think he was mean as many people thought he’d be, other than using the term ‘Pocahontas’ one time in the beginning. He didn’t call anyone fat. He didn’t insult women. He didn’t insult Biden.”
All agreed that no clear, single issue stood out from either candidate. “It was the same thing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,” David said.
“I was really disappointed in Wallace. He really came after the president several times, and Biden but more after Trump.”
Panelists agreed that the president interrupted Biden frequently, earning reprimands from Wallace.
What was most memorable of the 90-minute debate? “Biden managed to stay on stage for 96 minutes. The bar is so low for Biden, it was an achievement for him to stay straight for 96 minutes,” Al-Aqidi said.
“I think the biggest failure was Wallace. We didn’t hear clear questions … and he didn’t let us hear the answers. There were very important issues that needed to be discussed, but he couldn’t get a clear answer from both.”
The debate was broken up into short two-minute statements from each candidate on a topic, followed by several minutes of open debate, but it appeared chaotic at times.
The first question was on the appointment of a Supreme Court justice to succeeded Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.
Other topics included the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, what Wallace described as “race and violence in American cities,” and the integrity of the elections.
“Every issue discussed tonight is very crucial to what’s happening tonight — the Supreme Court nomination to fill the gap of the late Judge Ginsburg and what that would entail; in terms of health care that affects every American; abortion rights; women rights. Everything is in the balance,” said Kossaify.
David said: “This is the most important election in this country … 2020 has had so many issues, starting with COVID-19 and civil rights issues, and starting with impeachment at the beginning of the year … health care, the divisiveness — all of that and the Supreme Court, Roe vs Wade, all these big issues … We can’t afford to have a debate like this because our lives are on the line.”