Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 Summary
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a PanoramicPerspective of the World Map
7. Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa, with its abundance of natural resources and population of one billion, has enjoyed high annual growth rates averaging approximately 6% throughout the 2000s. At the same time, finding solutions to the problems facing Africa, such as poverty, inequality, and conflicts, is a matter of great concern to the international community.
Against this background, Africa is becoming increasingly important to Japan from a foreign policy viewpoint for the following reasons: (1) expansion of trade and investment between Japan and Africa, which has great potential as an import source, manufacturing center, and consumer market, can help Japan to revitalize its own economy; (2) contribution to finding solutions to poverty, inequality, conflicts and terrorism in Africa will help Japan earn the trust and respect of the international community; (3) strengthening relations with Africa, whose influence is increasing within the international community, will enhance Japan’s ability to gain support in the international arena.
Given the importance to Japan of diplomatic relations with Africa, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe actively exchanged visits with African leaders from 2013 through the beginning of 2014. In June 2013, 39 African heads of state and government came to Japan to attend the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V). At this conference, which discussed the importance of economic growth led by the private sector, Prime Minister Abe announced support measures through public and private funds totaling up to 3.2 trillion yen (including 1.4 trillion yen in official development assistance), and declared that Japan would contribute to the realization of “Quality Growth” in Africa, encompassing fields such as development, peace and stability. In January 2014, Prime Minister Abe paid a visit to Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, and Ethiopia), marking the first time in eight years that a sitting Japanese Prime Minister had visited that continent. In Côte d’Ivoire, the leaders of 13 countries, including 10 neighboring countries, gathered to strengthen mutual trust with Japan. Further, in Ethiopia Prime Minister Abe made a policy speech in which he appealed to Africa to choose Japan as its true partner, and explained the virtues of Japanese aid and investment. In addition, representatives from a total of 33 private companies also accompanied the Prime Minister, and in each country they visited they had the opportunity to introduce their respective companies and products with the aim of strengthening business relations with Africa. Prime Minister Abe also explained the content of Japan’s policy of its “Proactive Contribution to Peace.” through which Japan will contribute more actively than ever before to the promotion of peace and stability at a regional and global level. In this regard, Prime Minister Abe announced that Japan was prepared to implement assistance of approximately 320 million US dollars in order to respond to conflicts and disasters in Africa.
Among other measures taken in 2013 should be mentioned the dispatch of a delegation of government and private-sector representatives to the Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Côte d’Ivoire to promote trade and investment (November and December 2013), the assistance (year round) to African PKO training centers to help promote peace and stability, and the establishment of an embassy in South Sudan (July) to reinforce ties with Africa.
Unfortunately, 2013 was also the year in which the world lost (on December 5) a great man of Africa, former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, who had devoted his life to the realization of universal values such as freedom and equality. His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan, as well as former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (as Special Envoy), attended the funeral ceremony held in Johannesburg on December 10 to express their condolences on the loss of the former president.