Speech by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori "Africa and Japan in the New Century", at Gallagher Estate, Midrand, Republic of South Africa

(provisional translation)

January 9, 2001


His Excellency President Thabo Mbeki, His Excellency Vice-President Jacob Zuma, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly glad that, as the first step in my long-awaited visit to Africa, I have been able to come here to South Africa - a nation that won its struggle for human rights, and the nation that holds the key to Africa's renewal. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Excellency President Mbeki for his warm words of welcome which have impressed me very much.

I had profound reasons of my own for deciding to pay the first-ever official visit as Japanese prime minister to sub-Saharan Africa, and it had to be my first overseas trip of this new century.

As chair of the G8 summit last July, I took the initiative to arrange a dialogue between the G8 leaders and leaders of developing nations, something which had not been attempted before. I invited three leaders from Africa; President Mbeki, President Obasanjo and President Bouteflika, and we had a friendly exchange of opinions. I was genuinely moved by the strong determination of these three presidents to bravely fight against the difficulties that they face, and by their enormous enthusiasm.

At just about the same time, I received a certain visitor at my official residence. It was Sadako Ogata, former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, who is also here today. Ms. Ogata, who visited refugee-related sites in Africa 31 times during her term as commissioner alone, gave a detailed account of the tragic conflicts that have given rise to refugee problems, and at the same time told how efforts by Africans themselves at resolving those conflicts have steadily born fruit here in Africa.

My dialogue with the three African presidents continued at the U.N. Millennium Summit held last September. Through these dialogues, I became more firmly convinced than ever that the 21st Century is the century in which Africa will finally make big strides, and that there will be no stability and prosperity in the world in the 21st Century unless the problems of Africa are resolved. And I chose to visit Africa at the dawn of the new century because I definitely wanted to stand on the soil of the African continent and express directly to the African people the firm determination of the Japanese people to open our hearts along with you, to sweat and to expend all our might to aid in the process of Africa overcoming its difficulties and building a bright future. I believe this is an appropriate new beginning for Japan's global diplomacy.

(There will be no stability and prosperity in the world in the 21st Century unless the problems of Africa are resolved.)

Africa has suffered from the negative legacy of its past, and now continues to face a variety of problems.

Africa's per capita GDP used to be among the highest in developing regions, but during a time when other developing regions were growing rapidly, unfortunately per capita GDP in Africa actually fell, from 600 dollars in the 1970s to 510 dollars in the 1990s.

Following the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, regional conflicts actually increased in Africa. The world has been distressed at report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that now, in this region, one person out of five has suffered from such conflicts, and the number of refugees and internally displaced persons has reached almost 6.25 million. Also, saving the vibrant human resources of Africa from the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases has become an urgent task.

The difficulties that Africa faces are by no means simple ones to solve. Nevertheless, I believe in Africa's bright future. Despite the difficult realities, one can hear the powerful drumbeat of African renewal, something that President Mbeki has been advocating. Even if economic difficulties persist, the World Bank's forecast for the medium term through 2003 presents a bright picture, with average annual GDP growth of over five percent in 27 of the 47 sub-Saharan nations. Regarding conflicts, we are truly heartened to see that efforts at resolution by Africans themselves have been steadily bearing fruit, including the Burundi peace agreement reached through the mediating efforts of former President Mandela, and the ceasefire agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, worked out by the OAU. The fight against infectious diseases has only just begun, but there have already been concrete results in some countries in the form of falling infection rates.

I said earlier that the 21st Century is the century in which Africa will finally make big strides. There is no need to remind you that Africa was originally blessed with the richness of nature and with vibrant human resources, or that it is a continent with a history of past prosperity and a future of limitless possibilities. Looking back in history, during the time that the Frankish empire was building a centralized state in Eighth-Century Europe, the Ghana Empire was flourishing in Africa. Then around the 14th Century, first the Mali Empire, then the Songhai Empire grew prosperous. In those days, it is said that the west African city of Timbuktu was not only a center of economic exchange, but also flourished as a center of academic activity where there were more professors and students than there were at Sorbonne University in Paris. And I've heard that from here in southeastern Africa around that same time, pig iron was exported to the Indian empire through the mediation of Indonesian traders operating across the Indian Ocean.

In this age of globalization, as the world becomes increasingly unified, it would be unthinkable to talk about "the world of tomorrow" without considering sub-Saharan Africa, which contains one quarter of the world's nations, 20% of the world's land, and 10% of the world's population. If it can overcome the difficulties it faces and open the way toward a bright future, Africa will probably become the driving force behind vibrant development of human society in the 21st Century.

As President Mbeki says, quoting the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, "There is always something new out of Africa." On the other hand, if the problems of Africa are neglected and one fourth of the world's nations remain alienated, there is no reason that the world community should be able to prosper and maintain stability. Indeed, there will be no stability and prosperity in the world in the 21st Century unless the problems of Africa are resolved

(Japan's Commitment to Addressing the Problems of Africa)

His Excellency Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regarding the relationship between Japan and Africa, it has been recorded that in 1586 a Tensho Era youth mission to Europe, on its way back to Japan via the Cape of Good Hope after visiting the Vatican, spent six months in Mozambique due to violent storms. But after that, Japan itself entered a period of isolation from the rest of the world, and exchange with Africa stopped. In 1918, Japan established its first consulate in the sub-Saharan region, in Cape Town. And in 1927, Dr. Hideyo Noguchi died in Africa, while devoting himself to research of yellow fever in Ghana. Despite incidents like these, full-fledged exchange did not begin until various countries declared their independence from colonial rulers after World War II, so that history is less than 50 years old.

Still, Japan has been steadily increasing its involvement with Africa. With the start of the new century, I want to reiterate Japan's unwavering commitment to Africa, a land that holds the key to the future of humanity. As a responsible member of the world community, Japan has repeatedly expressed our determination to contribute to peace and prosperity on a global scale, and addressing the problems of Africa is one of the most important issues for our global foreign policy.

(Two wheels of cooperation with Africa)

When we promote cooperation with Africa, our nation believes we should address support for development and conflict prevention/ refugee aid as if they were two wheels of a cart.

Before I discuss individual points, I want to explain our nation's basic philosophy about cooperation with Africa. All the problems confronting Africa - poverty, conflicts, refugees, infectious diseases, water resource, environmental destruction, etc. - are problems that threaten human existence itself. Indeed, Japan's peace diplomacy of the 21st Century places human security at its core. In that sense, it would not be an exaggeration to say that our success or failure in establishing human security in Africa will test the merits of Japan's foreign policy. The threads that connect all measures aimed at human security are the idea that each individual human should be valued, and the conviction that in the medium and long terms, development of human resources is a major key to helping humans overcome a variety of threats.

The Japanese are not blessed with abundant underground resources. Because our only resource is our people, we have invested a lot of energy in education. Our optimism that people can overcome any difficulty through development of human potential and cooperation between people underpins our stance toward cooperation; that stance is based not on acts of charity, but on always viewing others at the same eye level and acting as fellow human beings.

The next thing I want to say is that it is important for developmental support and conflict prevention/ support for refugees to be organically linked like the wheels of a cart as we implement unified measures. In other words, in order to prevent wars, there must be a maturing of democracy, which allows conflicts to be resolved not by force but through dialogue, and there must be economic development which makes that maturing possible. This requires self-reliant efforts by the parties concerned, but there also has to be cooperation from outside parties, especially in the form of frameworks for political security and international support systems aimed at eradicating poverty. In reality, however, this kind of conflict prevention is insufficient, and, as a result, a large number of refugees have been emerging. In order to solve the refugee problem at its source, of course there must be political solutions to the conflicts that cause the problem. On the practical side of refugee support, however, emergency humanitarian aid to refugees and others is not always linked smoothly enough with development aid. This is a problem that I understand former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ogata, who is here today, found most difficult as she directed the support efforts for refugees. Our country also wants to work hard to allow international organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations and other parties responsible for various fields such as politics, security, humanitarian affairs and development, to build smooth cooperative relations.

Now that I have made these points, I want to first discuss Japan's policies toward African development aid.

Development aid will continue to be a central policy measure in Japan's policy toward Africa. In 1993 and 1998, Japan sponsored meetings of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD. We would like to build on these accomplishments, and hold a TICAD III in the future. In preparation for that meeting, we propose to hold ministerial-level talks on African development in Tokyo this December.

So far, we have reached agreements through the TICAD process about basic directions to take: a comprehensive approach that includes the establishment of political stability, etc., ownership by Africans themselves and the building of partnerships with members of international society, as well as promotion of south-south cooperation. Based on the assumption of this basic directionality, Japan believes there are three points of focus to consider in the future TICAD process. I would be most pleased to hear opinions from your country and from all the other countries of Africa.

The first point is that we would like to give priority to positioning TICAD as forum where Africans themselves can discuss development strategies. Rather than just debating ownership of development projects at the implementation stage, true ownership is established when African ideas are presented at the most fundamental development strategy stage. Japan welcomes initiatives like President Mbeki's "Special Programme on African Renewal" and the "Africa Development Plan" being prepared by the nations of Africa based on the Mbeki plan. The Japanese government, along with other donor countries, wants to listen to development strategies proposed by Africa itself, and to discuss how we might join Africa in making those strategies become reality.

The second point is further development of south-south cooperation. I believe it is important for Japan and other Asian countries to share our development experiences with the people of Africa. There are many possible combinations: not just between Asia and Africa, but between northern Africa and the sub-Sahara, for example. Another example is the start of the "African Institute for Capacity Development" project at Jomo Kenyatta Agricultural University in Kenya, with which Japan has cooperated over the past 20 years.

Regarding areas of cooperation, too, it has become necessary to take a comprehensive approach that includes private-sector exchange. There are already various fora for policy dialogue, such as the Asia Africa Forum, but there is a need for what one might call brains to create an overall strategy from an even broader point of view. For example, I think we have now reached a stage where we could seriously consider establishing a forum such as a "conference of Asian and African eminent persons" made up of top-level intellectual leaders from both sides.

The third point is on new areas of focus, i.e. cooperation in the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases, and cooperation on information technology. The TICAD II Tokyo Agenda for Action specified focus areas, and Japan has steadily addressed the implementation of those areas, for example by providing JPY 90 billion worth of grant aid over five years in the fields of education, health care and water supply. However, in addition to these areas, we intend to focus on cooperation in the fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases, and IT cooperation.

Concerning the fight against infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Japan announced in the "Okinawa ID (Infectious Diseases) Initiative" at the G8 Summit that we intend to provide US$ 3 billion in aid over the next five years. We intend to make active use of this for Africa. In fact we shall engage in cooperation for the prevention and abatement of AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. We also believe it will be effective to have research bases in places like Kenya, Ghana and Zambia at its core, and then spread cooperation to the other countries of Africa from there. We had Zambia's President Chiruba give the keynote address at last December's Okinawa International Conference on Infectious Diseases, and from the standpoint of promoting even further cooperation with Africa regarding the problem of infectious diseases, we plan to send a high-level study mission to relevant countries early this year.

Also, spreading information and communications technology is an effective way to close gaps in economic development, and Africa has already taken the initiative in this field. At the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, Japan announced an IT cooperation plan aimed at the whole world, amounting to US$ 15 billion to be disbursed over five years. In order to consider what kind of cooperation is possible in this field, we will send a high-level study mission at the earliest opportunity, and confer with relevant countries.

Furthermore, another issue that is important for development, in addition to those already discussed, is the problem of debt. The most important issue right now concerning this point is to move forward quickly and effectively with debt relief for heavily indebted poor nations in order to reduce poverty and promote social development. As of the end of 2000, 22 heavily-indebted poor countries were to receive debt relief, and debt relief provided by Japan will total US$3.8 billion, making ours among the biggest contributions from G8 nations.

Next I'd like to talk about the other wheel on our cart of cooperation with Africa: along with development aid there is conflict prevention and support for refugees.

Japan's full-fledged cooperation in this field began with sending personnel to participate in the U.N. Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibian in1989, giving shape to our two-wheeled approach toward cooperation with Africa. Looking at financial aid alone, Japan has contributed US$ 600 million between 1994 and today, in order to support refugees, clear land mines, and furthermore to contribute to the OAU Peace Fund and promote the Burundi peace process.

The factors behind Africa's conflicts - including various unfortunate inheritances from the colonial era and low levels of development - are tangled up in an extremely complex manner. Nevertheless, any conflict should be resolvable as long as the parties involved have wisdom and steadfast determination. If I look back over the history of South Africa, where I stand today, I can see that the people of Africa have access to wisdom that was capable of overcoming such fierce conflict. By engaging in high-level contacts between the parties of a conflict as we did at TICAD II in 1998, Japan wishes to stress that it will continue to follow closely conflict resolution in Africa with much interest, and that it will support the efforts of concerned parties aimed at peace. Japan also wish to stress the foolishness of wasting an irreplaceable resource - people - through continued conflicts

But at the same time, rather than resolving ongoing battles, it is easier and less costly to prevent conflict, or prevent the resumption of fighting once it has stopped. Our preparation of the "G8 Miyazaki Initiative on Conflict Prevention" at last year's G8 summit, our emphasis on support for refugees, and our shouldering of 20% of the expenses needed for U.N. peacekeeping activities, along with our dispatch of Self-Defense Force members to Mozambique and Rwanda, are all based on this kind of thinking.

Concerning support for refugees in particular, interest among Japanese increased after Sadako Ogata became UNHCR in 1991, and refugee support became the core of our country's efforts in addressing the problem of African conflicts. This concern was directly expressed in the form of an increase in the number of Japanese NGOs participating in refugee support activities, and in the fact that half of the US$ 600 million mentioned earlier as being spent to resolve African conflict issues, in other words US$ 300 million, was spent on aid to refugees. Later on, I myself plan to observe a refugee camp in Kenya, and I am determined to make the most of the experiences I have on this trip to Africa when formulating my country's future policies.

Japan, too, applied itself to rehabilitation after the utter destruction of the Pacific War. Our people, who were dazed at one point, pressed ahead with building a new nation and we achieved economic development. Especially my own generation was instrumental in supporting this post-war restoration. This being the case, I am keenly aware of how important it is to organically link conflict prevention/ refugee support and development with the degree to which people like refugees and demobilized soldiers can be reintegrated into society and induced to participate in nation building. The fact that about two months ago, an "International Workshop/Symposium on children and Armed conflict - Reintegration for Former Child Soldiers in the Post - Conflict Community" was held in Tokyo, and the start of cooperation with the social reintegration of war victims in Sierra Leone are both based on this kind of awareness.

(Japan and Africa ... Heart to Heart Exchange Plan)

His Excellency Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have outlined Japan's cooperation with Africa, but what I consider to be even more important is mutual exchange between Japan and Africa. When the Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka visited Japan in 1987, he said, "Africa has always tried to effectively resist dominant cultures, and always worked to puncture those pompous balloons and eat away at them. That is why African culture was able to survive without being destroyed." We have long desired to know more about Africa, from this type of great traditional culture to the arts, philosophy, and the nature of people's daily lives, and we have long wanted to get cultural stimulation from Africa, just as Picasso and Modigliani received artistic revelations from Africa. At the same time, we would like the people of Africa to have a better understanding of Japan. I am convinced that it is only when there is a foundation of this type of heart-to-heart grass roots-level broad mutual understanding and friendship that various political and economic activities can produce abundant fruit.

Speaking of Japanese-African exchange, we began dispatching Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers to Kenya in 1965 and we send volunteers to 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa with which we concluded a new dispatch agreement today. Under this plan, we sent a youth to coach Kenya's women's volleyball team, which became the first such team from Africa to compete in the Olympic games, in Sydney. There are Japanese youths growing vegetables in a farming village in Niger. Currently almost 700 Japanese young people are active in various African countries, and the aggregate number of such volunteers so far exceeds 6,000. Also, there are currently about 400 students from Africa studying in Japan. Among them are two Kenyans: John Kanyi and Francis Mwihia of Heisei International University, which have only 4 years of history since its establishment. Mr. Kanyi achieved a great fete of overtaking eight runners of other universities with hundred years of tradition in the annual New Years' ekiden relay race right in front of excited Japanese spectators. Their performance has made their university famous overnight, and also has made a strong impression of Africa's presence. Yamanashi Gakuin University has also suddenly become a household name around the country thanks to African athletes. We've been told that more and more applicants are now knocking on their door. There is also Ms Esther Wanjiru who stayed on after finishing school with a Japanese company and showed her top form in women's marathon at the Sydney Olympics.

To add to this breadth of African personalities, there is also Mr. Rufin Zomahoun, who has been active as a TV talent, with a dream to build schools in his country, Benin. These students from Africa have been a source of virtuous stimulus for Japanese society. And upon their return to their own countries they have formed a core group that is expanding activities that promote friendship with Japan, for example by organizing alumni associations of former exchange students.

These young Japanese and Africans who have experienced life in each other's homelands are an asset that is very valuable to mutual exchange, but we hope for a steady broadening of this base of exchange when we consider the future of Japanese-African relations, which we expect to see expanding greatly. There are many areas for exchange, including intellectual exchange such as cooperative research, private-sector economic exchange, and promotion of tourism. However, I would like to expand in the two areas of cultural and youth exchange, which I see as particularly important.

First, let me talk about cultural exchange. By the way, did you know that a famous Japanese singer has recorded and released a new album in South Africa? I myself am one of Tokiko Kato's fans. Her new album is called "Tokiko Sky." In this album, Tokiko Kato has written the following words: "Africa is said to be where humanity originated on this planet. The stirrings of a people who woke up with the sun and lived with the sun have evolved into numerous types of music that traveled to other parts of the world. Samba music in Brazil, reggae in the Caribbean, the chacha in Cuba, fado in Portugal, and jazz in New York.... all are said to have roots in Africa. I will never forget these few weeks during which I sang with African musicians who have musical blood that could be called their destiny."

This kind of heart-to-heart exchange between Japan and Africa is already occurring naturally. I always pray that this kind of exchange will grow broader and deeper and develop at the grass roots level.

When TICAD II was held in 1998, an exhibition of modern African art was held in Japan at the same time. It was very popular, but on other occasions such as the TICAD III that we plan to hold in the future, I would like to focus on implementing Japanese-African exchange projects and provide opportunities for ordinary citizens to become familiar with each other's culture. Also, in order to make possible continuous, high-level cultural exchange between Japan and Africa, I suggest that it is important to create a network of people who can serve as the core of implementation for cultural projects. Personally, I propose that we promote systematic exchange between Japanese and African artists, art museum representataives and theatrical artists, etc.

In order to enrich cultural exchange between Japan and Africa, it is important to give appropriate protection to the various cultural assets of Africa, both tangible and intangible, and Japan would like to help with that. We have already established a Japanese trust fund within UNESCO and used it to provide support in Asia. We would like to expand this to Africa and are preparing to cooperate soon with preservation and restoration of the Royal Palaces of Abomey in Benin. Africa is also rich in fantastic intangible cultural assets such as orature, traditional music and dance. We also plan to extend support for the preservation of such intangible cultural assets in Africa.

In conclusion, I would like to talk about the most important point, which is that the future of rich Japanese-African relations depends on mutual understanding and friendship between the young people who will be in charge of the 21st Century. There are a variety of systems in place to address Japanese-African exchange, with an emphasis on young people, including various training and dispatch systems. I would like to see these systems actively used to facilitate the exchange of about 6,000 people over the next three years.


His Excellency Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a speech at the United Nations University in Tokyo, President Mbeki said, "all humanity is an interdependent whole in which none can be truly free unless all are free, in which none can be truly prosperous unless none elsewhere in the world goes hungry, and in which none of us can be guaranteed a good quality of life unless we act together to protect the environment. By so saying, we are trying to convey the message that African underdevelopment must be a matter of concern to everybody else in the world, that the victory of the African Renaissance addresses not only the improvement of the conditions of life of the peoples of Africa but also the extension of the frontiers of human dignity to all humanity."

In the beginning of my speech, I said there will be no stability and prosperity in the world in the 21st Century unless the problems of Africa are resolved. But if I can borrow the words of President Mbeki, I would say that without the African renewal, all human beings will be unable to be "truly free" or "truly prosperous," or to take back their "human dignity".

In the same speech, President Mbeki called on the Tokyo audience to participate in Africa's fight for renewal, saying that "the African Renaissance, in all its parts, can only succeed if its aims and objectives are defined by the Africans themselves."

Here today, I want to respond to this call on behalf of the Japanese people with a resounding "Yes!" Let's fight for that together.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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