Message from Mr. Tetsuro Fukuyama,
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan
on the occasion of the sixteenth ordinary session
of the African Union Executive Council
I offer my sincere congratulations to H.E. Mr. Moussa Mohamed Koussa, Chairperson of the African Union Executive Council, H.E. Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the AU Commission, and the distinguished representatives of the member states of the AU on the occasion of the sixteenth ordinary session of the AU Executive Council.
I come to Ethiopia straight from the London Conference on Afghanistan, with the specific purpose of being here during the AU Executive Council. I do so for two reasons: because I firmly believe that Africa is as crucial an issue as Afghanistan and deserves the united efforts of the international community; and because as a representative of Japan I wanted to reassure the African countries in my own words that Japan attaches great importance to Africa.
Africa has worked its way through the global financial and economic crisis by its own effort, and is now seeking to return to a path of growth. At the same time, it is striving to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, working to reduce poverty and tackle infectious diseases. Japan intends to do everything in its power to support these African efforts. The Hatoyama administration will fulfill Japan's commitment at TICAD IV, including the doubling of ODA to Africa and the facilitation of trade and investment by 2012. We are also working to expedite the implementation of our assistance, just as Japan promised last year during the TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting in Botswana.
As part of an effort to deliver steadily on our pledges, Japan is preparing to organize the TICAD Follow-up Ministerial Meeting in Africa once again, in May. We look forward to substantive discussions with our African partners at this Meeting, and to building on its outcome to make sure that African voices are heard in the broader international community.
The choice of Information and Communication Technologies as the theme for this AU Assembly is very timely. ICT offer vast opportunities for development and growth. From this standpoint, Japan has spent about 120 million US dollars in the past three years in Africa, to develop its communications infrastructure and build up ICT-related human resources. Japan will continue to provide assistance on ICT, bearing in mind their importance for achieving growth in Africa.
Japan also wants to capitalize actively on its cutting-edge science and technology including ICT to contribute to African development. That was the reason behind our hosting of the Japan-Africa Science and Technology Ministers' Meeting in 2008. And we look forward to engaging with our African partners further on this topic, including through this forum.
Another issue that is just as important for Africa as ICT is climate change. We must not let climate change hamper Africa's development and growth. Last September, at the UN Summit on Climate Change, Prime Minister Hatoyama announced Japan's ambitious aim of reducing its emissions by 25% by 2020 if compared to 1990 levels, which is contingent upon the establishment of a fair and effective international framework by all the major economies, and an agreement by each of them on setting ambitious targets. I believe that this announcement by Japan injected fresh impetus into the climate change negotiations, which had been faltering at the time.
I participated in the COP15 myself, as a member of the Japanese delegation. I deeply regret that the world did not manage to come out of there with an agreement on a new framework. That said, it was significant that world leaders hammered out the Copenhagen Accord themselves and that the Conference adopted a decision to take note of this Accord. We now need to build on this outcome and forge ahead. Addressing climate change is vital for Africa, since this continent is vulnerable to its adverse effects. I therefore take this opportunity to call on every African country to publicly state their support for the Copenhagen Accord, in which financial resources are offered to developing countries. For its part, Japan intends to provide robust assistance in this field. And Japan will work to ensure firm linkages between the Copenhagen Accord and the "Hatoyama Initative," under which Japan announced that it would assist adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries by providing about 15 billion US dollars in public and private financing in the three-year period until the end of 2012. Drawing on such linkages, Japan will proceed with the steadfast implementation of this Initiative.
In working towards the COP16, Japan will step up its collaboration with the African countries that are taking action for the global environment, based on our shared perception about what truly benefits Africa. I call on the African countries to work very hard among themselves as well, in order to contribute to building a consensus.
Now let me touch on the issue of peace and stability in Africa. Japan pays tribute to the AU's efforts in this respect, and will work to bolster our collaboration with the AU even more. Japan is also going to make a further contribution by providing assistance to countries like Somalia and Sudan, and by supporting the enhancement of Africa's peace-keeping capabilities.
Last but not least, the inter-governmental negotiations on the Security Council reform are now underway at the UN, and the momentum is growing for realizing early reform. Japan intends to collaborate with Africa more closely in this matter, so that we will be able to get a concrete outcome expeditiously.
I sincerely hope that the deliberations in the Executive Council will contribute greatly to achieving the development goals of African nations as well as to boosting regional peace and stability.
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan
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