Japan and Tanzania: Partners towards a Vibrant Africa
Speech by H.E. Mr. Masahiko Koumura,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,
January 4, 2008
(US$264.5 Million towards Support Measures for Humanitarian Crises and Peace Building Assistance in Africa; Invitation to TICAD IV)
Hamjambo? Jina langu ni Masahiko Koumura. Nimetoka Tokyo.
Thank you for coming today. I am very pleased at having this opportunity to speak to you.
First of all I have got a piece of breaking news I should like to share with you.
Japan is just about to launch a new assistance package for the countries of Africa. I'll be describing for you in a minute what that package entails. After that, I should like to talk about a major conference Japan will be holding later this year, at the end of May. I am confident that President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete will come join us at this conference and very much looking forward to that possibility.
Now permit me first to take a minute and give you an overview of the new assistance package I have just mentioned.
Japan intends to undertake support for humanitarian crises and peace building measures so as to consolidate peace on African soil and alleviate Africa's humanitarian tragedies so far as possible. The Africa-wide total of this aid package will amount to some 264.5 million US dollars, or approximately 310 billion Tanzanian shillings.
The package will include measures to address the droughts and floods that ravaged so much of Africa last year. We will also start helping peacekeeping training centres that operate across the continent. People in Africa are working hard to build peace-builders, and we want to work with you on that front.
This has got a close relevance to Tanzania as well, as a portion of this assistance is aimed at easing the situation of the refugees you have from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. It will also strengthen your border control capacity on your border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Next, let me say a few words on the May conference, to which we have the great honour of inviting President Kikwete. It is a conference on African development known as "TICAD," or the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which Japan convenes once every five years. The one we are going to have this year is the fourth, or TICAD IV, and for the venue we have selected Yokohama, a port city neighbouring Tokyo. I will be telling you more about TICAD later in my remarks.
As this is a great opportunity I should also like to convey to you some of my personal reflections on why Japan is determined to continue its assistance to Africa. In doing so, I also want to confirm for you how the words "ownership" and "partnership" have their roots in the TICAD process. Finally, I should like you to come to see Japan's relationship with Africa as something that is based on a long-term perspective and places a great deal of importance on people-to-people relationships.
(Deepening Relations between Japan and Tanzania)
Before I go any further into my remarks, may I take a moment to repeat how pleased I am at being here in Tanzania.
You know that in Japan more and more people are becoming better aware of your country. They know Tanzania as the birthplace of humanity or home of the mighty Kilimanjaro, or, more recently, as the country that so generously gave us frozen coelacanth specimens to research.
The recipient of the two coelacanths, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, undertook a research dissection last month on December 22, and I am pleased to tell you that this dissection was attended by His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino, a learned scholar in biology. I am thrilled thinking of what the scientists will come to reveal about evolutionary theory.
Tomorrow my wife and I will be touring a workshop that produces fine Tingatinga art. These last two years, your ambassador to Japan, His Excellency Mr. E.E.E. Mtango has held Tingatinga exhibitions twice in Tokyo, and through his efforts, this earthy but powerful art style has attracted a growing following in Japan. I should like to take the liberty in expressing my respect for Ambassador Mtango's untiring efforts in promoting Tanzanian culture among the Japanese people.
During this trip I also learned of the vocal trio "The Unique Sisters," a three-sister group here in Tanzania that I understand has been quite the rage among young people. Their name couldn't be more fitting, as I was most certainly surprised at their uniqueness, with all three of them having lived in Japan and speaking beautiful Japanese.
(The Rise of a Vibrant Tanzania)
I am actually a student of a distinct martial art that was born in Japan. It is called Shorinji Kempo. I know that in Tanzania, there are three regional charters, including the one here in Dar Es Salaam, under the World Shorinji Kempo Organization.
Whenever I have the opportunity to teach Shorinji Kempo to children, I say something like the following.
Boys and girls, it's not so difficult to succeed in Kempo, or in life, either.
If you want to succeed, get yourself started. If you don't get started your chances of success are pretty clear-they'll be zero, plain and simple. Next, once you get on your way, don't stop. Stopping is also the best way to bring your chances of success back down to zero. I tell them, if you keep going, you'll eventually find that success is yours.
I need to be honest with you: most children give me "that look" when they hear my so-called "simple" rules, wondering if what I said can really be quite that simple. Well, I admit, while the rules themselves are simple, sticking to them can be anything but. Success is indeed something difficult that we need to strive for, but the key is that first of all you need to go out and take that first step for you to have any chance of success at all.
And ladies and gentlemen, the closer I look at your history, the more people I think I can find in Tanzania who would very likely say exactly the same.
It is true that your battle against poverty and against HIV/AIDS still has a long way to go. But I know you have almost won the battle against leprosy, to take just an example. I know also that for the last five years, school fees have been eliminated at Tanzania's public elementary schools, with education invariably being allocated a significant portion of the national budget.
And so, my friends, clearly here in Tanzania there are already any number of examples of how you have followed the first golden rule to success, to "get yourself started." If we consider this in terms of the rules I spelled out earlier, I really feel confident in projecting a high likelihood of success in Tanzania's future.
Your economic growth tells much the same story. If Tanzania continues to grow at the current rate of 6 to 7%, the economy will have doubled only ten years from now, and this is why I feel so positive about a bright future ahead. I feel strongly that we now can and should feel confident in discussing a "vibrant Tanzania."
(From TICAD IV to the G8 Summit)
This year's TICAD IV conference has a keynote motif that was decided in consultation with African nations, which is, "Towards a Vibrant Africa: A Continent of Hope and Opportunity." Incorporated therein is a desire to make sure that Africa develops a brand image that is bright and vibrant.
TICAD is a process that is open to donor nations and international organisations, and a process that is both inclusive and transparent. This, I feel, is what is best about the TICAD process, as it can facilitate wide-ranging partnerships. This year, I am determined to use these aspects of TICAD as much as I can in order to promote awareness around the globe of Africa as a truly vibrant place. I pledge to you today that I will do exactly that.
The time has now come for TICAD to make a significant leap forward. In order for our ideas not to end up as failed dreams of what might have been, and in order for us to effectively take up mid- and long-term issues for five or ten years into the future, it is necessary to have a mechanism by which our eyes can stay wide open at all times. One of the tasks that the upcoming TICAD must take on is hammering out just such a mechanism.
TICAD IV must then pass on the torch to the G8 Summit, to be held one month later beside Lake Toyako on the island of Hokkaido in the northernmost part of Japan. We must utilize the summit opportunity to make "Vibrant Africa" even more vibrant by having the world confront the challenges that are topics not only for Africa but also for all humankind, including the eradication of poverty, post-conflict peace building, and the prevention of desertification and conservation of forests.
This year marks the halfway point to the target achievement date of 2015 set for the Millennium Development Goals. For this reason it is important that we once again urge further efforts to achieve all of those 18 targets. The bottom line is that unless we dramatically improve maternal health and the combating of infectious diseases, Africa cannot become vibrant in the truest sense. I have already put forward a concrete proposal to improve the state of health care in Africa. The mission of the Hokkaido Toyako Summit should be to enhance various such types of momentum.
(The Purpose of Launching TICAD: Striving until We Can Speak of a "Vibrant Africa")
Japan launched the TICAD process exactly 15 years ago, in 1993. At the time there were people talking of "aid fatigue" on both sides of the equation-the African nations' side and the donor countries' side. Talk of "African pessimism" was also rife in certain circles. I for one remember at one time the macroeconomic performance of Africa overshadowed that of Asia, so many people would wonder what exactly was "wrong" in Africa that made the outcomes of these two regions so different.
And yet, you may recall that Asia became vibrant not all that long ago. What we know for certain is twofold: first, that economic and technical cooperation as well as investment from Japan all acted as a strong brace for support that enabled Asia to take off, and second, that now there are Asian countries that had been on the receiving end of aid that have emerged as donor countries contributing as partners in African development.
Japan had come to the conviction that what Asia has achieved must be achievable in Africa as well. What's more, having played such a major role in the Asian growth experience, we felt strongly that we had a special responsibility to give witness that such a goal was not simply the stuff of fantasy but instead entirely achievable. We argued that the experiences in Asia could, and should, be shared with Africa.
It was our unwavering belief in such points as those that brought Japan to launch the TICAD process 15 years ago. Moreover, we have been emphasizing the importance of Asia-Africa cooperation right there from the very beginning.
Now in Tanzania we find NERICA-New Rice for Africa-steadily spreading to more and more farmers. NERICA is a hybrid of a high-yielding Asian strain of rice and a hardy, drought-resistant African strain and it boasts the best characteristics of both its African and Asian "parents." I can't think of a better metaphor to epitomize the significance of Asia-Africa cooperation. If the "Green Revolution," which played such a major role in Asia's economic takeoff, were to be replicated in Africa through the NERICA hybrid, it would be a truly wonderful development.
What this all boils down to, of course, is that Japan had it exactly right when we launched TICAD based on our firm belief that the time would come when we would be able to speak of a "Vibrant Africa."
(The TICAD Track Record: Ownership and Partnership)
I would say there have been a number of achievements of Japan and TICAD up until the present day that merit special mention.
TICAD has since its beginning maintained that the private sector should be involved in African development; that development should go in tandem with trade and investment; that, in other words, to reduce poverty, you ought to grow economically: all these points received emphases throughout the TICAD process. TICAD has advocated that to fight against poverty you must start developing human resources and build your capacity.
All these may now be part of conventional wisdom, yet it is Japan that has been consistent in stressing their importance through the TICAD process.
It was in 2000 that the G8 Summit first took up the importance of tackling infectious diseases. The host country of that summit was none other than Japan. You might know that this later came into fruition as the Global Fund. This achievement resulted in tremendous praise for Japan from Bono of the rock group U2.
For the consolidation of peace, it is absolutely critical that you provide individuals with the means to be liberated from fear and destitution. Japan has been the leading advocate for this concept, which is known as Human Security.
Meanwhile, in Africa, you have introduced NEPAD, driven by your shared commitment to promoting "ownership," a TICAD concept. You then reorganised the OAU as the AU in order to promote region-wide integration.
Until now I have been using the word "ownership." The counterpart to this concept of ownership is one of "partnership."
Donor nations are unable to author even a single chapter of the ongoing tale of African development and nation building. Instead, developing nations must take responsibility for their own nation building, assuming this "ownership." And donor countries like Japan have been of the mindset that they should build strong partnerships with developing countries that assert this ownership. TICAD has called prominently for these two imperatives of "ownership" and "partnership."
(Japan's Views on Development Assistance: Promoting Self-Help Efforts)
Japan has an idea about what developmental assistance must be.
First of all, there is the belief that developmental assistance must not be charity. Each person in Africa needs to take to heart the idea that investing some "elbow grease" will lead to greater prosperity. Without this belief in the power of sweat and elbow grease to transform one's future, long-term development will not begin, and as a result people cannot be extricated from poverty.
Second, we believe that you must also hand out bread to the very needy who are hungry. Yet the people who create the future are those who are cultivating the ground and growing the wheat. So, to facilitate development at its core means helping those people tilling the land.
Placing importance like this on self-help so that people can stand on their own is, I think, a way of thinking that all Japanese feel right down to the marrow of their bones.
If I were to name something as TICAD's greatest achievement, without question I would say it is that the TICAD process called this the concept of "ownership" and enabled it to take root world-wide among those concerned with development assistance.
(Solid Examples of Tanzanian Ownership)
On this I should say no other country has demonstrated "ownership" as solidly as Tanzania.
A good example of this is the Poverty Policy Week that has been convened for several years now. This intensive week-long forum brings together donors and domestic representatives from both inside and outside the government, such as civil society leaders and local government officials, with the forum's results to be reflected in the development policies coming into effect in the subsequent period.
Tanzania is also leading the way in its efforts towards harmonization in development cooperation-that is, coordination by donors and recipient countries to avoid duplication and waste within aid efforts.
In my mind, the common threads running through all of these are that Tanzania is designing its future blueprints for itself, by itself, and that the country cares very much about holding itself accountable towards its donors. Tell me, how would this be possible were it not for a clear sense of ownership in Tanzania over the future of its own development?
Make no mistake here, it is exactly with this kind of country with which donors readily seek to strengthen their partnerships.
And that, my friends, sums up the relationship between Japan and Tanzania in a nutshell. Japan intends to support Tanzania's National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty, better known as your MKUKUTA strategy, by providing some 6.5 billion Tanzanian shillings, or approximately 5.6 million US dollars (630 million Japanese yen), in new assistance.
Tomorrow I will be meeting with your Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation His Excellency Mr. Bernard Kamillius Membe, and after that we will be exchanging official notes on the new assistance. I should like to add that the assistance also includes the provision of rice from Japan to Tanzania, worth 7.3 billion Tanzanian shillings, or approximately 6.3 million US dollars (710 million Japanese yen).
(The Osaka Training Programme and 2,300 People Studied in Japan)
I would be remiss if I did not also touch on what is commonly referred to as the "Osaka Training Programme" being promoted between Tanzania and JICA, or the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The idea is that JICA invites the Regional Administrative Secretary from each of the 21 mainland regions of Tanzania as well as two District Executive Directors from each district to a large Japanese city called Osaka, where they are given intensive training on local government and its administration practices. It is a five-year long programme, and still ongoing, which, I think, demonstrates more than anything else the strength of the trust binding Japan and Tanzania.
Equally or perhaps even more striking, for me, is the fact that once home, former participants in the Osaka programme have held on a voluntary basis seminars and roundtables to discuss how their experiences in Japan can best be applied to Tanzania. Again, I have little doubt that without a strong sense of ownership, such a result would never come to be.
I am aware that some of you in the audience here today have been to Japan for various types of workshops and study programs. The figures I have are from two years ago, but even as of that time, there had been more than 2,300 participants in such study programs in Japan, including, I understand, a large number of parliamentarians and key leaders in government.
Alumni of these programs founded an association called JATA, standing for the JICA Alumni Association of Tanzania, and I understand that this alumni association has been actively engaged in various activities for more than ten years. I tell you, I was really impressed anew upon hearing that. I understand that last September, JATA sponsored an essay contest for Tanzanian middle school pupils on the theme of "why math and science are important in our daily lives." It is entirely clear to me that it is exactly this type of person-to-person relationship that will form bonds between Japan and Tanzania lasting for many generations to come.
As I began my remarks today, I mentioned that I hoped you would come to understand that Japan's involvement with Africa is one that is grounded in a long-term perspective, and also one that treats human relationships as important. It is with stories such as this in mind that I mentioned that to you today.
(Why Japan is Involved in Africa: "Kindness towards Others Helps More than Just Others")
It goes without saying that for development to occur, roads are important, as are ports, and for industrialization, such infrastructure is absolutely critical. As a point of fact, Japan has been assisting with the construction of a fish market and roadways here in Dar es Salaam, among other things. Yet any project you point to would have the same objective, which is to realise the long-term potential of the Tanzanian economy. I hope that today you come to understand that inherent to Japanese development assistance to Africa is an extremely long-term perspective.
Japan hopes strongly that at TICAD IV we will be able to create a blueprint for infrastructure development for the entirety of Africa. The time will soon come for us to envision all of Africa being networked together.
You and I are talking about an Africa blessed with natural resources and a continent comprised of countries, such as Tanzania, that are pushing hard to stand on their own. The long-term investment I have just spoken of will also certainly lead to a handsome dividend for the Japanese in the long run.
In the long run, I say, as I want you to know also that the Japanese are here in Africa driven very little by anything retrievable short-term as a result of our cooperation efforts.
This is because when Africa becomes vibrant, thereby benefiting the world, Japan will surely see many a positive effect kicking in. That's just how the globalised economy works, and what's more, Japan's economy accounts for 10% of the world's output, meaning that she cannot help but be affected by Africa becoming more robust.
But of all the types of investments that we can make, I think the one that is the most long-term is investment in people. The Japanese have done that in large part because Japan's hallmark thinking of developmental assistance should be conveyed to as many African people as possible. We want the people in Africa to know that we wish all good things to happen to people who work hard and who enjoy making efforts towards their future. Our hope is that through this you may perhaps come to know better what the Japanese are really like.
Japan has a number of issues to tackle, none of which is possible without African support. But without you knowing better who the Japanese are in the first place, and trusting them, I don't think Japan can ask for your cooperation.
We have a saying in Japan that goes, "Kindness to others helps more than just others." In other words, what goes around comes around, and a good deed is never lost. That's the notion that drives the Japanese over here. We can be certain that a good deed will circle back to do us good in the long run.
You now have a better picture, I believe, as to why the Japanese have been and will continue to be eager to work with you toward a vibrant Africa. But let me leave you with one concrete example of this.
(Sumitomo Chemical Mosquito Nets: Why a 4mm Mesh Size?)
In preparing for this trip I came to learn a lot about the Olyset mosquito nets that were the brainchild of Japanese company Sumitomo Chemical. I understand that the leading cause of child mortality in Tanzania is still malaria.
I know that Sumitomo Chemical decided two years ago to increase the production of the Olyset nets here in Tanzania, due to which more and more of these nets have been made available throughout the country. As an important objective under the MKUKUTA strategy is to decrease the percentage of children under the age of five who die of malaria to less than 8%, it would be great if the Japanese company's product would help achieve the goal, while also increasing local job opportunities.
Personally, what I found admirable was how these nets came to have a mesh size of 4 mm. The Anopheles mosquito is roughly 2 mm in size, so common sense would suggest that this mosquito should be able to pass through such a wide mesh. But as it turns out, making the mesh size 2 mm also makes it impossible for a breeze to blow through. The children sleeping inside these nets would get so hot that they would not be able to rest.
The person who developed the Olyset net is an engineer named Takaaki Itoh, who has been working with Sumitomo Chemical for 34 years. Mr. Itoh started doing experiments and observations one after the other. What he finally settled on is a mesh size barely 4 mm wide. Anything bigger and the mosquitoes become able to pass through the mesh. But at 4 mm, the mosquitoes invariably bump into the mesh, even though the mesh size would seem to leave ample room for them to fit through. When they come into contact with the mesh fibres that contain pesticides, they simply fall to the ground. Best of all, at this mesh size, the breeze can be felt, making it possible for babies inside the netting to sleep comfortably.
I think that this anecdote is an ideal example of the "kindness to others helps more than just others" philosophy of the Japanese that I explained just a moment ago. I would imagine that, in so passionately making his prototypes and doing his experiments over and over again, Mr. Itoh was motivated by the thought of Tanzanian children becoming able to sleep at night without being bitten by mosquitoes-that is to say, he was motivated by kindness. We can be equally sure that the resultant sales of the Olyset nets account for a tiny portion of the enormous total sales of Sumitomo Chemical.
Yet in return, Mr. Itoh and Sumitomo Chemical are now held in the highest esteem. In so doing, they succeeded in gaining a precious asset, something that cannot be bought at any price. Certainly, what goes around does indeed come around, with Mr. Itoh's kindness to others coming back to him many times over.
My friends, I would like to close my remarks today by saying to you once more that Japan's approach in engaging in development assistance to Africa is typified in this example, and by pledging that Japan will always continue its presence in this continent as a true partner working towards a vibrant Africa.
Thank you for your time here today. Asante sana.
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