Japan vows to steadily implement $32 billion in aid for Africa
13 May 2014
Kyodo News International
Japan told foreign ministers and senior officials from about 50 African countries on Sunday that it will steadily implement 3.2 trillion yen, or $32 billion, in aid for Africa over a five-year period through 2017.
With the government and private sectors acting in concert, Japan "will steadily implement assistance it pledged" last year, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech at the start of a two-day meeting in Cameroon of a Japan-led initiative to promote development in Africa.
Under the program, Japan has already assisted African countries by providing patrol ships to Djibouti, with the building and maintenance of roads in western Africa, and with exchanges of businesswomen between Japan and Africa.
Kishida also said Japan will lend a further $300 million to the African Development Bank to use to nurture the private sector in African countries.
"Japan sees Africa, a region with high economic growth, as a frontier of i ts diplomacy," he said. "Japan aims to strengthen reciprocal economic relations with Africa through an expansion of trade and investment."
At the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama in June last year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled the 3.2 trillion yen aid package for Africa. In January, Abe visited Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Ethiopia, and vowed Japan's continued support for development of Africa.
The Cameroon gathering, called the First TICAD V Ministerial Meeting, comes as China has pledged $20 billion in aid to Africa.
At the meeting, delegates from Africa and Japan were to discuss how to boost agricultural output in Africa, ways to ensure food and nutrition security on the continent, and how to empower women and youth there, according to Japanese officials.
Referring to the Afric an Union's designation of 2014 as "Year of Agriculture and Food Security" for the continent, Kishida said Japan, as an "international partner," supports Africa's food-related initiatives.
The two sides were also expected to talk about improving the business climate in Africa as an increasing number of Japanese companies show interest in doing business there.
Annual economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to accelerate to 5.5 percent in 2015, from around 5 percent in 2013. However, poverty and inequality remain high in many countries.
Promoting engagement with Africa is part of Abe's policy of conducting "diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map."
"Peace, stability and prosperity in the world that Japan envisions will not be complete without Africa," Kishida said. "We believe (Abe's policy of) proactively contributing to peace based on the principle of international cooperation will serve to be a new bond between Japan and Africa."