The foreign minister of Japan has beseeched Israel to refrain from attacking Iran and to allow economic sanctions to pressure the Islamic Republic into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

Japan is very concerned [about] the Iranian nuclear issue, Koichiro Gemba told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper of Israel.

The international community, including Japan, is putting unprecedented pressure on Iran, and the renewal of talks between the world powers and Iran is a result of this pressure.”

In meetings with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, Gemba urged restraint with respect to Iran.

The military option will not only give Iran an excuse to expedite its nuclear program, but could also increase the instability in the region, which would threaten Israel, Gemba warned.

Reportedly, the Israeli prime minister assured Gemba that he does not want a war with Iran.

Gemba told Lieberman: It is important to continue to put effective pressure on Iran as the pressure [begins] to show its effect, to some extent.”

In response, however, Lieberman charged that the sanctions against Iran were not effective in halting Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran has not stopped its nuclear program for even one day, and is accelerating its uranium enrichment, Lieberman told Gemba, according to Israeli radio.

Lieberman’s statement echoed the skepticism recently expressed by Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak.

The [nuclear talks between world powers and Iran do] not fill me with confidence. I may sound pessimistic but the state of Israel cannot afford to be duped, he said at a Foreign Press Association meeting in Jerusalem on Monday.

Barak reiterated that all options to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons are still on the table, although he conceded that a military strike would be complicated.

But a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran would be far more dangerous, he added.

The Japanese foreign minister also met with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Gemba also called on Israel and Palestinians to resume direct peace talks which have been on hold since September 2010; and he also urged Israel to place a freeze on settlement construction.

Gemba will visit Amman Jordan late on Wednesday, and then journey to Cairo later in the week.

Japan has been praised by the United States and western nations of reducing its crude imports from Iran.

“The regime in Tehran is now feeling the economic screws tighten, and one of the reasons is that countries like Japan made the decision to reduce oil imports from Iran, U.S. President Barack Obama recently said during a joint news conference with Noda at the White House.

This is just one more example of how despite challenging times at home, Japan has continued to serve as a model and a true global leader.”

According to Platt’s Energy, Japan has reduced its Iranian crude imports by 22 percent over the past year.

Japan recognized the state of Israel in 1952, but did not have full embassy-level diplomatic relations until 1963.