Chapter III.
Regional Developments

G. Africa

Disparities among the African countries emerged particularly clearly in 1998. Where some African countries saw the further entrenchment of the "new wind" sweeping Africa in 1998 in the form of further democratization and steady economic growth, with results emerging from autonomous nation-building efforts, it also became apparent that Africa still faces many issues in need of resolution, including the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, civil war in Guinea-Bissau and conflict in regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire).

a) 1998 developments

With regard to politics, some results were produced through efforts toward conflict resolution by the African countries themselves: for example, the regime which gained control of the capital of Sierra Leone in a May 1997 military coup d'etat was expelled in February by Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG, or Economic Monitoring Group), and the democratically-elected President returned home in March, while the civil war which broke out in Guinea-Bissau in June also moved toward peace through the mediation efforts of neighboring countries and ECOWAS. Another bright development was the concrete progress made toward the transfer to democratic government in May 1999 in Nigeria, which has the largest population of all the African countries. Led by the new Head of State, who took over the reins of power after the sudden passing away of the former Head of State, this included the release of political prisoners and the implementation of local elections on the basis of a multi-party system.

On the other hand, an armed clash occurred in May over demarcation of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire), armed conflict broke out in August between the Kabila Administration, which came to power in May 1997, and anti-government forces in the east, expanding into a battle which also involved the surrounding countries. Realizing and maintaining political stability, a prerequisite for development, therefore remains a major challenge in Africa.

Responding to this situation, the United Nations Security Council and other bodies engaged in vigorous international discussion on efforts to resolve the African conflict issue. Conflict resolution efforts were also undertaken, on their own initiative, by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community and other regional institutions and neighboring countries, but no concrete results have emerged.

Positive signs emerged in the economic sphere, including an annual economic growth rate of more than 5% over 1997 for around 20 African countries, as well as progress in many countries with structural adjustment policies focusing on efforts to introduce market economy principles and to streamline government entities in consultation with the World Bank and the IMF.

However, there are no signs of major improvement in the harsh reality that around 40% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is living in conditions of absolute poverty (an income of less than a dollar a day), and poverty reduction, developing infrastructure to achieve sustainable economic growth, and strengthening human capacity building through improvement of education systems still remain important tasks.

b) Relations with Japan

Recognizing that Africa's political stability and development are important issues which should be addressed by the international community as a whole, Japan has been actively supporting African self-help efforts.

Moving on this stance, in the area of stability and peace, Japan held the Tokyo International Conference on Preventive Strategy in January, producing a report recommending that the United Nations and regional organizations improve the conflict prevention capacities of the African countries, and particularly their early warning capacities. Japan also supported African countries' own efforts to resolve conflict through, for example, donations to the OAU Peace Fund, as well as continuing to supply active assistance through international institutions, including assistance provided through the UNHCR for refugee relief activities.

Further, taking the position that a comprehensive approach that includes both political stability and economic development is needed to realize African development, Japan held the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) in October to seek ways in which the international community can assist the self-initiated development efforts of African countries on the basis of equal partnership (see Chapter I, B.5). At TICAD II, Prime Minister Obuchi presented Japan's concrete assistance measures, and further demonstrated Japan's leadership in international efforts toward African stability and development.

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