Statement by Mr. Ryuji Yamane, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan on the Occasion of the 21st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union

July 12, 2012

French, Japanese

Your Excellency Mr. Nassirou Bako-Arifari, Chairperson of the Executive Council of the African Union,
Your Excellency Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union,
Honorable Ministers and Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Introduction

Let me express my heartfelt congratulations on the 21st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union.
In this memorable year, the tenth anniversary of the African Union, it is a pleasure for me to meet with you again here, following the previous meeting in January, in Africa, the continent of origin for all human beings which holds such great potential for our future.

Since its establishment, the African Union has actively taken initiatives as a symbol of the integration of Africa with the aim of resolving Africa’s problems and achieving its development. Thanks to these efforts, Africa is now viewed as a new economic frontier after Asia, and is attracting world attention as a “Continent of Hope and Opportunity.” Japan appreciates the AU’s proactive initiatives, which have grown significantly over the past ten years as a manifestation of Africa's ownership, and will continue to strongly support these efforts.

2. Towards the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V)

Less than a year remains before TICAD V, which will be held in Yokohama, Japan from June 1 through 3, 2013. Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the AU, and the 20th anniversary of the TICAD Process. Japan aims to make TICAD V, being held in such a memorable year, an opportunity to bring the Japan-Africa relationship to a new stage, reflecting positive changes witnessed in Africa. The Second Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize Presentation Ceremony will also be held.

The Fourth Ministerial Follow-up Meeting for TICAD, held in Morocco in May as the starting point for the discussions leading up to TICAD V, was successfully convened, attracting many participants, and produced meaningful discussions. I thank you very much for your cooperation. At this meeting, we agreed that TICAD V should further focus on the acceleration of economic growth, aiming to realize inclusive and sustainable growth and build a robust society, while enhancing efforts for peace and stability.

The year leading toward TICAD V is what we call “TICAD year”, as a SOM Preparatory Meeting will be held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, a Ministerial Preparatory Meeting will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during this period. Japan would like to further deepen its discussions with the Commission of the African Union and the other co-organizers of TICAD, as well as with individual African countries and the international partners. I would like to ask for your cooperation, especially for the participation of the leaders in TICAD V for the success of the meeting.

3. Japan’s Policy toward Africa

Last year, Japan experienced an unprecedented disaster. At that time, we received huge number of messages of condolences and direct supports and assistances from the people of African countries, including from those facing their own difficulties. We were deeply impressed and encouraged by these expressions of solidarity with us. More than a year has now passed since the earthquake and Japan is now making steady efforts for its recovery and reconstruction. In preparation for TICAD V, Japan will overcome this difficulty and strongly promote active policies toward Africa, focusing on the three pillars: (i) contributing to peace and stability, (ii) expanding development assistance, trade and investment, and (iii) addressing global issues. We will cherish the sense of solidarity with African countries that we received during the disaster.

(Contributing to peace and stability)

Japan has consistently placed an emphasis on and offered support for peace and stability, which are the basis of development and growth. In recent years, many armed conflicts and much political instability have been resolved, which enabled many African countries to pursue development and growth. However, conflicts and the political chaos accompanying violence can still be observed in some areas in Africa, and the new problems like terrorism and piracy have emerged. The Japanese government will support the efforts made by African countries to achieve peace and stability on the African continent to promote its further development.

(Expanding development assistance, trade and investment)

Africa has been attracting the expectations and attention of the international community due to its rapid economic growth. Japan has actively offered development assistance based on the TICAD process and sees Africa as its business partners. From this point of view, Japan has dispatched public-private joint missions for promoting trade and investment, with the participation of many private companies, five times since the TICAD IV to various regions in Africa. I myself visited Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya as the leader of the mission last October and felt firsthand the significant potential of the continent.

(Addressing global issues)

We would also like to jointly address global issues based on strong ties between Japan and African countries.

With regard to the issue of climate change, Japan will steadily provide support, with an emphasis on vulnerable countries, including African countries. Furthermore, Japan will cooperate closely with African countries and the co-organizers of TICAD to compile the final report on the “African Green Growth Strategy.”

We are deeply concerned that no progress has been made in reforming the UN Security Council. No change is in sight under these circumstances. In order to achieve needed reforms, it is indispensable for us to take a realistic stance by considering what are feasible reform plans, instead of persisting in trying to seek what are desirable ones. Japan will continue cooperating with African countries for realizing the reform.

4. Conclusion

The disaster we experienced last year led us to recognize afresh that Japan and Africa have fostered a strong sense of solidarity by jointly overcoming various difficulties over the past twenty years of the TICAD Process. Japan strongly wishes to deepen its ties with Africa and to move toward a future full of hope with a close mutual cooperation, and hopes that TICAD V will present a great opportunity to open a new era.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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