a) 1999 developments
With regard to politics, the tide of democratization which has swept Africa in the 1990s resulted in democratic presidential elections and peaceful changes in leadership in South Africa and many other African countries in 1999. In Nigeria in particular, a major power with the largest population in Africa, May signaled the end to the long-lived military administration and completed the shift to the first civilian government in 16 years. Such events can be evaluated as contributing to the progress of democratization and the maintenance of political stability in the African region. In terms of the conflict issue, peace-brokering efforts by neighboring countries and regional organizations, such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), produced peace agreements between the parties concerned to the Sierra Leone civil war and for the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while a UN peacekeeping operation was initiated in Sierra Leone at the end of November. A certain amount of progress was therefore made toward regional stability, but there is little room for complacency until true peace is achieved in regard to all conflicts.
Despite the best efforts of the OAU and other mediators, as well as urging by the international community, including Japan, to the related countries to find a peaceful settlement, peace remained out of reach in the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Military offensives by government forces in Angola in September and October too failed to end the Angolan civil war, with the road to peace expected to be a rocky one.
While an OAU Summit in July adopted a resolution criticizing changes in Government effected by illegal means, coups d'état took place in Comoros and Niger. In the Côte d'Ivoire, regarded as a stable West African leading state, dissatisfaction over unpaid wages caused soldiers to riot at the end of December, leading to the downfall of President Henri Konan Bedié and his replacement by former Defense Chief of Staff Robert Guei who took the helm of state. Political stability remains a major issue in Africa.
On the economic front, many countries have introduced market economy principles and pushed forward with fiscal retrenchment and other structural adjustment policies in consultation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. As a result, more than 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have achieved economic growth of five percent or more. At the same time, market trends for primary products such as cocoa have affected a lot of African countries, and no major improvement has been made in the absolute poverty that forces around 40% of the region's population to survive on an income of less than one U.S. dollar a day per person. The domestic finances of numerous African countries are also being drained by the need to pay back accumulated external debts, and with African countries comprising 33 of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) designated by the World Bank and the IMF, Africa's debt has become a serious issue for the international community.
Socially, solutions need to be found to parasitic diseases such as malaria and other infectious diseases. Rampant HIV/AIDS in particular has become severe enough to reduce the labor force and shorten the average life-span, and threatens to impact negatively not only on economic development, but also on the safety of the human race as a whole.
Poverty reduction, infrastructure development to achieve sustainable economic growth, strengthening human resources development and improvement of health and medical care are urgently required to address the economic and social issues currently facing Africa.
b) Relations with Japan
Recognizing that the peace and prosperity of Africa are important issues which should be addressed by the international community as a whole, Japan has been actively supporting African countries' efforts in order to ensure African development and the political stability which serves as the basis for achieving this.
In terms of support for political stability, with a view to conflict prevention, Japan has made direct demarches for peace to leading figures of countries involved in conflicts. Japan has also provided a range of election support, such as dispatch of election observers and provision of financial assistance to support the advancement of democratic processes, humanitarian assistance for refugees and others arising from conflict through international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and support for the conflict prevention and resolution efforts of African countries through donations to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Peace Fund.
In the area of development support, Japan has actively worked with other donors, international organizations and African countries toward the steady implementation of the Tokyo Agenda for Action adopted at the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD II) held in Tokyo in October 1998, as well as provided support in the area of basic human needs including education, health and hygiene. In particular, Japan boosted its contribution to combating HIV/AIDS, including support for the hosting of the 11th International Conference on AIDS and STDs in Africa (XI-ICASA), and in the area of debt, made a new Japanese proposal in April prior to the Cologne Summit, contributing to the enhancement and expansion of the framework for international debt relief measures for HIPCs. Japan made a range of other efforts with the view to contributing to the resolution of debt issues through support for building the debt management capacities of African countries, including the co-hosting of a debt management seminar with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others in August in Kenya.
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