Richard Melson

August 2006

Islamic Banking: Japan

Newsletter No.361
August 19, 2006



In June,
Shingetsu Newsletter No.312 reported that several Japanese financial institutions -- led by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) -- were looking into the possibility of entering the Islamic banking market. It appears that these plans are now moving forward.

The first step is that the JBIC will issue a "sukuk bond" in Malaysia valued at about US$400 million. This move will be done with the support of Bank Negara Malaysia, perhaps around next January.

Malaysia itself wants to consolidate its position as the leading center of Islamic finance, and Japanese help is appreciated. Malaysia launched Islamic banking services in 1983, and it now makes up 10% of the country's banking sector.

As for the Japanese banks, they have their eyes on the growing Islamic banking market, which is growing in importance globally.

As Tadashi Maeda of JBIC told the Financial Times, "The ultimate goal is to attract petro-dollars to the Asian bond market. Japan can play a key role in this." Japan is poised to be a pioneer for advanced industrial countries in this respect.

The Shingetsu Institute

for the Study of Japanese-Islamic Relations


1-10-203 Wakafuji-machi, Kokurakita-ku
Kitakyushu-shi 802-0063 JAPAN
Japan Tel: 070-5549-5382
Attn: Michael Penn

Shingetsu Institute:

As Japan enters the 21st century, it is sure to face a host of new and unprecedented challenges and opportunities as a member of the global community. Undoubtedly, one important dimension of Japan’s future will relate to Japan’s dealings with Islamic nations and peoples. Indeed, in past decades, events such as the oil shocks of the 1970s and the Persian Gulf Crisis of 1990-1991, as well as recent developments such as the September 11 attacks and the Iraq War, have had an extraordinary impact not only on Japan’s foreign policy, but also on Japan’s political and economic system as a whole. This being the case, there is an increasing need for all Japanese, inside and outside of government, to be well informed, knowledgeable, and sympathetic toward the culture, beliefs, and political challenges of the Islamic world.

Shingetsu Institute aims to help fill an institutional gap in Japanese society. In Japan there are few places and opportunities for people to learn about Islamic peoples, or even about the history or current status of Japanese-Islamic relations. This is especially true for Japanese in Western Japan, far from the center of the national government in Tokyo.

The Shingetsu Institute has missions at the global, national, and local levels. Globally, the Institute will endeavor to promote international peace and understanding through education and enlightenment. Nationally, the Institute will be a center of research that will chronicle and explain the history and current state of Japan’s relations with Islamic peoples. And locally, the Institute will provide educational services to Japanese citizens in Western Japan, as well as cultural support for Muslim residents of the region.

The Shingetsu Institute is headquartered in the city of Kitakyushu at one of the closest points in Japan to the Asian mainland. This region, which includes the Kanmon Straits between the islands of Honshu and Kyushu, has long served as a crucial juncture between Japan and the outside world. We would be pleased to see this region once again play a vital role as an intellectual gateway for a peaceful and productive relationship between Japan and the world at large.


Newsletter No. 361 (Islamic Banking)

Shingetsu Newsletter

Saturday, August 19, 2006