I was surprised by the comments made by Mr Seiichi Otsuka, the Japanese Consul General in Dubai, published earlier this week in a local newspaper, in which he complained that Dubai companies are late on their dues to Japanese companies.
Does his job description as an accredited diplomat in this country really entitle him to publicly express such views? Or is he just meddling in something that is none of his business?
Does Mr Otsuka work as a Consul General of Japan, or as an official spokesman for these Japanese companies? Perhaps the companies appointed him as their official representative and forgot to tell us.
I was surprised, and dismayed, by his utter violation of diplomatic norms and the special ties between the UAE and Japan in claiming that Japanese companies are owed billions of dollars by Dubai firms that, he added, they are not able to repay.
Smearing Dubai’s name
He even threw the name of the Emirate of Dubai arbitrarily into the issue, saying: "Some Japanese construction companies are facing very serious debt problems as Dubai can't pay".
Then he admits that the Japanese Government has not discussed the payment issues with the Dubai Government, nor has it intervened with financial assistance to those companies affected. Right. So the Japanese government doesn’t want to intervene. Then, why would the Consul General stick his nose into something that really doesn’t concern him?
Why would he trespass and violate the norms and traditions of his job, which I believe is to issue entry visas?
Moreover, if he was really keen on helping his country’s companies, shouldn’t he resort to the normal diplomatic channels to sort out the problem, if there were a problem to begin with?
Did the companies concerned give him a mandate to speak on their behalf, or was it just an individual effort by someone who obviously took all the wrong turns?
Personally, I don’t want to believe that the Consul General works secretly as an adviser to a Japanese company, or as a paid lawyer, which would propel him to embarrass his embassy and country. But I think the diplomat was betrayed by his ill-advised, undiplomatic comments and stuck his nose into something that is not his business. Japanese companies have, no doubt, a number of agreements with their Dubai counterparts. But they also have, I’m sure, able lawyers and advisers who know how to claim any overdue payment, in case there was any. So far, we have not heard from the companies on whose behalf the Consul General volunteered to speak - in the process, shooting himself in the foot.
I would like to remind Mr Otsuka that Dubai and Dubai firms are not the only institutions in the world that have obligations, financial and otherwise, towards other entities. And Dubai firms have never said they would not pay what they owe, nor did they say that they were not able to pay, even though they have been hit by the global financial crisis, just like other companies around the world.
Of course the crisis impacted Dubai, which has a globalised economy, and was bound to be affected by what happens in other economies. This is not a secret.
However, it seems the Japanese Consul General, through his strange comment, has joined the orchestra that has been playing all the negative tunes against Dubai, especially in some sections of the Western media. I urge the UAE Government to strongly condemn his stance, and summon him and his boss, the ambassador, to protest against his reckless behaviour, and perhaps the UAE should declare him persona non grata.