Press Conferences

Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko

Tuesday, April 30, 2024, 11:15 p.m. Nigeria

This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.

Opening Remarks

Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs:: I have generally completed my visit to Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria, the first three legs of this tour. This marked the first visit to Madagascar and the first visit in 45 years to Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria by a Japanese Foreign Minister.

This visit focused on strengthening connectivity, promoting investment, and supporting startups. In addition, the respective countries and I shared views on not only our bilateral relations, but also cooperation in the international arena and global issues, including Women, Peace and Security (WPS), United Nations Security Council reform, and disarmament.

In particular, I paid attention to creating regional hubs for strengthening connectivity. In my discussions with university, hospital, port, and library staff in the three countries, I saw that there was potential to develop many of our outstanding initiatives into an integrated and expanded effort, not just leave them as individual, separate efforts. We will further explore these ideas and achieve tangible results in the lead-up to the TICAD Ministerial Meeting I will be chairing this August.

Furthermore, in each of the countries, I heard voices directly from Japanese nationals and business representatives that can only be heard locally. I conveyed to them that, through officials in charge of cross-border economic affairs whose appointment I announced prior to this visit, the Government will support Japanese companies expanding globally, not only at the country level but also at the regional level.

In Madagascar, I paid a courtesy call on the President and held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. As maritime states, we concurred on advancing strategic cooperation for the promotion of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). Specifically, we concurred on promoting multifaceted development of Madagascar by strengthening maritime connectivity through the development project of Toamasina Port, which is located at a key juncture of the global supply chain that passes through the Cape of Good Hope, and by using “Co-Creation for Common Agenda Initiative.”

In Côte d’Ivoire, I paid a courtesy call on the President and held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Notably, I exchanged views extensively with Minister of Foreign Affairs Adom who has previously studied and worked in Japan. We agreed on co-hosting the Japan-Africa Public-Private Economic Forum and concurred on further strengthening our economic relations.

In Nigeria, I held a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. We confirmed to further strengthen business and economic ties, including promoting the startup ecosystem. I also had an opportunity to hold talks with internally displaced people on WPS.

As part of cultural diplomacy, I make a point of going to a bookstore in the country I am visiting, and this time, I visited a bookstore in Côte d’Ivoire. I also visited a municipal library in Madagascar. Needless to say, libraries too are a hub of print culture. The municipal library I visited has been refurbished by Japan and France. The director of the library, other staff, and I concurred on utilizing the library as an entry point for promoting mutual understanding between the two countries, through such means as setting up a section in the library dealing with activities and exchanges between the two countries. In this connection, tomorrow, I will visit the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris. We hope to use this institute as a model case for extending this initiative to many countries in collaboration with the Japan Foundation.

What I found most striking during this visit was the energy emanating in the cities, especially the smiles of many children and young people. I saw firsthand the dynamism and potential of Africa as well as its high expectations for Japan. At the same time, it was a delightful surprise to see Japanese young people, including women, already attempting new businesses and tackling challenges in Africa. Japan and Africa share mutual trust that has been cultivated through TICAD for more than 30 years. Japan will incorporate the dynamism of the African economy while co-creating with Africa measures to realize economic growth, peace, and stability on the continent.

One of the objectives of this tour is to build bridges between the Global South and like-minded countries, including the G7. I will take stock of the local realities and voices I observed and heard here in Africa for the discussions at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in France, where I will be visiting from tomorrow.

That is all from me.

Question-and-Answer Session

Reporter: As you just explained, the TICAD process will begin with Japan hosting the TICAD Ministerial Meeting in August of this year and the summit meeting in August of next year. As countries around the world increasingly turn their attention to Africa, what expectations were expressed toward Japan’s initiatives by the three countries during your meetings? Furthermore, how do you intend to incorporate these expectations into the TICAD process?

Minister Kamikawa: As I stated earlier, in the three countries I visited, I sensed, notably, their trust in Japan which is based on our longstanding cooperative relations, as well as their high expectations toward greater investment from Japan, Japan’s technological capabilities, and insight on human resource development. In addition, it was encouraging to see young people and women attempting new businesses and tackling challenges in Africa.

Furthermore, during the foreign ministers’ meetings and in my discussions with women who are working at the forefront of peacebuilding and in politics and economics, I found that there was strong potential for Japan and Africa to learn from each other and enhance cooperation on WPS.

To meet the expectations, I sensed through this visit, it is important to further strengthen our quintessentially Japanese approach. As I just mentioned, in the lead-up to the TICAD Ministerial Meeting this August, we will explore ideas and achieve tangible results, including developing Japan’s initiatives from individual, separate efforts into an integrated and expanded effort, creating regional hubs for human resource development, and strengthening WPS cooperation.

Through such initiatives that leverage our strengths, Japan will incorporate the dynamism of the African economy and co-create with Africa measures to realize economic growth, peace, and stability on the continent.

Reporter: Japan attaches importance to the Global South as China increases its influence. The regions to be visited have been divided between the Prime Minister and you, with the Prime Minister visiting South America and you visiting Africa and South Asia. What is the meaning behind this?

In addition, in January, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China visited African and Latin American and Caribbean countries and confirmed economic cooperation through the Belt and Road initiative. Please share what views were exchanged during your visit regarding China’s influence and what efforts you will be making for Japan to demonstrate a unique presence in the Global South where China’s economic cooperation stands out.

Minister Kamikawa: Regarding your first question, we believe that further strengthening collaboration and establishing partnerships with developing and emerging countries, which are taking on a significant presence in the world as the Global South, is vital for maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law and leading the international community toward cooperation amid division and confrontation.

Based on this approach, ever since I was appointed as Foreign Minister last September, I have sought to engage many Global South countries, including countries in Southeastern Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific islands, and Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to such efforts, I believe the Prime Minister’s visit to Latin America and the Caribbean and my visit to Africa and two South Asian countries will be useful for sending a strong message about Japan’s intention to further enhance its engagement with the Global South.

On your second question, I held in-person discussions on East Asian and other regional affairs with the foreign ministers and other officials of Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria. It was very meaningful that we confirmed the importance of democracy and the free and open international order based on the rule of law, and confirmed that, on this basis, we will work to achieve sustainable development in Africa and peace and stability in the region and address global issues.

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