Statement by H.E. Mr. Yoshiro Mori
Special Envoy of the Government of Japan
On the Occasion of the Opening Session
Of the High-level Meeting on "African Development Needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward"

(22 September 2008)

H.E. Mr. Miguel D'ESCOTO Brockmann, President of the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly,
H.E. Mr. Ban KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
H.E. Mr. Jakaya Mrisho KIKWETE, President of the United Republic of Tanzania,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In recent years, the continent of Africa has been invigorated as it experienced unprecedented economic growth and achieved increasing political stability. The result is that we now have an opportunity to achieve real and sustainable economic growth and to eradicate poverty, in order to turn a page and make the twenty-first century the century of African growth.

At the same time, Africa faces major problems and some new challenges in the form of poverty, unemployment, soaring food prices, insufficient access to energy, climate change, recurring conflicts and violence and HIV/AIDS. The Millenium Devleopment Goals Report 2008 issued this month predicts that it will be difficult to achieve the MDGs in Africa by the deadline we have set for ourselves.

In the face of these challenges, I believe it is time for the international community to come together and enhance its support for African efforts to achieve growth and stability, to ensure human security, a concept I addressed right here at the Millennium Summit in 2000, and make the most of the opportunity Africa has today to become a continent of truly vibrant nations.

(TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit)

As you know, Japan held the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in May of this year and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July.

Representatives from 51 African countries, 34 donor and Asian countries, and 77 international organizations participated in TICAD IV. I co-chaired the Conference with Prime Minister Fukuda, and led discussions on many of the issues I have just referred to with African leaders.

To be specific, we took up four issues and based on the outcome of our discussion, adopted the Yokohama Declaration, which consisted of the following messages:

First, to strengthen the current trend of economic growth in Africa and to accelerate its growth, we shall support the work that is being done to enhance infrastructure, human resources development, agriculture, and trade and investment.

Second, we shall continue to assist African countries in the areas of community development, education, health, and water and sanitation, with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Third, we shall support the efforts Africa is making to consolidate peace, which is the prerequisite of economic growth, and promote good governance, through which the profits from growth may be allocated to the poor.

Fourth, we shall support African countries in their efforts to address environmental and climate change issues, in order to promote sustainable economic growth.

As chair of the G8, Japan ensured that the discussion at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July reflected the outcome of TICAD IV. In the Hokkaido Toyako Summit Leaders Declaration, the G8 articulated the specific measures they would take to support the nations of Africa, focusing on the areas of health, water and sanitation, and education.

(Japan's Measures for Support and Follow-Up)

For its part, Japan announced at TICAD IV the measures it would take to support Africa, including doubling its official development assistance to African countries by the year 2012 and providing support with a view to doubling private investment within the same time frame.

Allow me to say a few words about the new idea that we arrived at in TICAD IV. At the conference, a number of African countries pointed out that although the international community had made many commitments, follow-up remained inadequate. To address this problem, we formulated the Yokohama Action Plan, which summarized the measures countries had pledged to take, and announced the establishment of the TICAD Follow-up Mechanism, which would produce periodic reports on the progress of implementation and ensure that they were reviewed and evaluated at the ministerial level. Japan intends to take advantage of this mechanism in the implementation of its own assistance for Africa.

This month, Japan has immediately implemented one of the commitments it made at TICAD IV, by dispatching the Joint Missions to Africa with a view to promoting trade and investment between Japan and African countries. One of its objectives is to study how Japan could provide support through its ODA programmes in effectively assisting promotion of trade and investment to accelerate the growth of African nations.

Also, Japan is determined to steadily implement the commitments it has made in the fields of health, water and sanitation, education and food, with a view to realizing the MDGs.

(Ownership and Partnership)

Finally, I would like to touch on the single most important pair of concepts I believe the international community must be guided by in the area of African development. I am referring to African ownership and the partnership of the international community, linked ideas Japan has long stressed and worked to make realities.

Whether it comes from donor countries or international organizations, the assistance development partners provide should conform to the real needs of African countries. And for assistance to conform to needs, it is necessary for there to be a dialogue. At the same time, if the assistance that partners provide is to be both effective and efficient, it is clearly essential that there be earnest efforts made on the African side. African countries have to muster the political will to meet such challenges as formulating sound economic, development, and poverty reduction policies, consolidating peace, and achieving good governance.

With the overarching goals of ownership and partnership always in mind, Japan stands ready to work with every country and organization represented here today to make the twenty-first century truly the century of African growth.

Allow me to conclude my remarks by expressing the heartfelt hope that the discussions we have here at today's high-level meeting will be fruitful and constructive.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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