Diplomatic Bluebook 2020

Chapter 2

Japan's Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map

3 The Situation in the North Africa Region (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco)

The Maghreb region is of great economic importance in Africa (Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia are all in the top 10 GDP countries in Africa, and Morocco is home to the second largest amount of Japanese companies in Africa) because of its high potential from the geographic advantage of being located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It also has an abundant and inexpensive young labor force. Each country in the region rode out the “Arab Spring” through various methods and maintained political stability.

In Tunisia, presidential elections and National Assembly elections were held from September to October, and Mr. Kais Saied, an independent candidate, was elected president. Cabinet negotiations are ongoing as of January 2020, and attention is being paid to whether economic and social policy will be steadily implemented in the future.

Meeting between Prime Minister Abe and Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco (October 24, Tokyo; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)Meeting between Prime Minister Abe and Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco (October 24, Tokyo; Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

On the other hand, in Algeria, since February 2019 protests against President Bouteflika's long-term government have taken place and been prolonged, and the administration was forced to resign in April. In a presidential election held in December, President Tebboune was elected, and the issue is whether the new administration will be able to ensure stable administration of the government.

In Algeria, the decline in energy income, which supports national finances, is becoming more serious, and overcoming regional disparities and high unemployment rates has also become an issue in Morocco and Tunisia. Additionally, there are concerns about the security effects of weapons and illegal immigration from Libya and the Sahel region.

Amidst this situation, Japan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria have, with opportunities such as TICAD7 and the Ceremony of the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor, actively continued exchanges of high-level officials since the end of 2018, when Foreign Minister Kono visited each country. Momentum for strengthening partnerships with each country is increasing, and Japan will continue contributing to economic and social stability in the region.

Japan and Morocco, in particular, have been developing friendly relations for many years on the basis of the relationships between the royal families of both countries, and high-level exchanges were successively realized in 2019, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bourita's attendance at TICAD7. In September the Japan-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship League visited Morocco, and His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, younger brother of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, attended the Ceremony of the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor and met with Prime Minister Abe. Through such a series of exchanges of high-level dignitaries, both countries agreed to further develop close bilateral relations.

The security situation in Libya has been unstable since the collapse of the Qadhafi administration in 2011, with parliament and government taking sides in the east and west. In April 2019 General Khalifa Haftar of the “Libyan National Army,” a powerful figure of the eastern side, ordered a march to Tripoli that developed into an armed conflict, including air strikes, with troops under the control of the Government of National Accord. Armed conflicts have continued since then, and the war has fallen into a deadlock. There have been more than 1,000 causalities, including ordinary citizens, and it is expected that a ceasefire will be realized and that the political process by the UN will be restarted.

Under these circumstances, Japan held a meeting in August with Foreign Minister Siala, who was visiting Japan to attend TICAD7, and it was agreed that there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict and that a peaceful solution is essential.