Visit to Japan of His Excellency Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana

His Excellency Mr. Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana, made an official visit to Japan from October 20 to 24 (stayed in Japan until 27 on private visit). The following is an overview of his visit.
The Japanese government has designated the year leading up to October 2003, when the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) is scheduled to be held, as a "Year for Soaring Cooperation with Africa."

I. Overview

1. Japan-Ghana Summit Meeting and Dinner Hosted by the Prime Minister (October 21)

(1) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, among other things, (a) praised Ghana's efforts toward the entrenchment of democracy; (b) emphasized that education is important for development; and (c) stated that he wished to seriously discuss, at TICAD III, what kind of cooperation is possible through the TICAD process for the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

(2) President Kufuor, among other things, (a) expressed gratitude for Japan's economic cooperation; (b) stated that, for development, it is important to attract private-sector investment and improve the infrastructure; (c) praised Japan's role in the G8 Action Plan for Africa; (d) said that Ghana supports the TICAD process and that he himself would attend the TICAD III; and (e) expressed interest in Nerica rice (New Rice for Africa).

(3) President Kufuor presented Prime Minister Koizumi with a set of postage stamps that Ghana issued recently to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the dispatch of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) and a picture drawn by a farmer in Ghana to show his gratitude for Japan's cooperation (depicting a rural scene in Ghana with a portrait of Prime Minister Koizumi).

2. Visit to Fukushima Prefecture (October 22 - 23)

President Kufuor and his suite visited the town of Inawashiro in Fukushima Prefecture, the home of a Japanese scientist Hideyo Noguchi who died in Ghana while visiting the country to research yellow fever. President Kufuor also visited a JOCV training center in Fukushima and encouraged the trainees who are scheduled to be assigned to Ghana.

3. Signing Ceremony for a Grant Project (October 25)

At the Prime Minister's Official Residence on October 25, in the presence of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, an exchange of notes took place relating to a project for the rehabilitation of a trunk road in Ghana. President Kufuor has expressed gratitude for Japan's assistance on this project on various occasions, calling it a symbol of friendly relations between Japan and Ghana.

4. On October 22 President Kufuor had an audience with Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress and attended a court luncheon.

II. Evaluation

1. Confirmation of Ghana's Cooperation as a Good Performer Toward TICAD III

The frank discussions between the leaders of Japan and Ghana, which is positively carrying out reforms toward the entrenchment of democracy and the realization of good governance while being recognized as a good performer in the international community, were highly productive in confirming Ghana's appreciation for Japan's support for Africa, its positive evaluation of Japan's role in the G8, and its full cooperation toward TICAD III.

2. Further Development of Friendly Relations, Which Go Back to Dr. Hideyo Noguchi

Thanks to such factors as the link through Dr. Noguchi, the existence of the Noguchi Memorial Research Institute at the University of Ghana, and the activities of a large number of JOCV, Japan and Ghana have enjoyed friendly relations for a long time. It can be said that the visit to Japan by President Kufuor served to even further develop these friendly bilateral ties. In particular, in Fukushima Prefecture the president was able to meet prefectural citizens and JOCV members and thereby to promote exchange at the grass-roots level.

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