The year 2008 was historically important for both Japan and Africa. Japan took a leading role in international discussions on African development by hosting the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in May and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July. Mutual visits at the summit and ministerial levels between both sides were frequently held. For example, Foreign Minister Koumura visited Tanzania in January, followed by Special Envoy of the Government of Japan (former Prime Minister) Yoshiro Mori, who attended and delivered a speech at the Tenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union held in Ethiopia. In March, Foreign Minister Koumura visited Gabon and in April the Tenth Meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum was convened in Tokyo. In September, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan, Mr. Mori participated in the High-level Meeting on Africa's Development Needs at UN and made a speech as one of TICAD IV followup-related activities.
While positive signs such as progress toward peace and stability and strong economic growth have been seen in Africa in recent years, issues including poverty and conflict, political instability, infectious diseases, terrorism, and organized crime remain serious. The global financial crisis and economic downturn are also impacting the countries of Africa in various ways. It is the responsibility of Japan, as a country holding an important position in the international community, to make efforts in order to resolve these issues. These efforts are also significant in deepening cooperative relations with Africa, which has been increasing its presence in the international community. Relations with Africa, with its abundant natural resources and an enormous, ever-increasing population, also carry great significance for the future of the Japanese economy.
Under this recognition, Japan proactively supports the efforts of African countries to resolve their own issues in both the political and the economic areas, of (1) boosting economic growth and reducing poverty and (2) achieving the consolidation of peace and good governance. This policy remains unchanged even amidst the global financial crisis, and Japan will steadily implement its assistance measures announced at TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit.
Understanding and support from the people of Japan are essential for the Japanese government to address African issues actively. In this regard, the government of Japan conducted a broad range of public relations activities for TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. As a result, the percentage of the Japanese public feeling affinity with African countries reached its highest level ever.