SEMINAR ON JAPAN AFRICA RELATIONS
Seminar on Japan – Africa Relations.
Date: Monday 5th February 2018
Time: 2:00 pm – 5.00 pm
Host: Africa Policy Institute
Venue: Africa Policy Institute, Head Office, Upper Hill, Nairobi, Kenya
Although Japan is relatively a new actor in Africa compared to other Asian countries, debate and research on Japan relations in Africa has been gaining momentum since 1990, when she became one of the biggest donors. The rise of Japan has far reaching implication for the future development of Africa. Both Japanese and African leaders have celebrated what is seen as shared dreams, based on the long history of relations between the two civilizations. As a result, Japan has not only become one of the most influential partners with Africa, but has largely reflected in African countries policy, although Japan’s originality in regards to Africa policy has not been made apparent.
In matters of security, Japan has showed its diplomatic ambition in Africa through it contribution in Peace Keeping operations, particularly in Mozambique and Rwanda.
Economically, Japan’s steadfast support of Africa issues through the TICAD process since 1933 has also seen the continent become receptive of Japan as a trading partner. It is of great importance to recognize that Japan was the first to organize an African forum, the Tokyo International Conference for Africa’s Development (TICAD) in 1993, although she has hardly changed her African policy through the process.
Although Japan trade with Africa has been steadily increasing, instabilities and other political risks associated with the continent have made Japanese companies become reluctant in expanding their trade and investment. Despite TICAD pledging to promote trade and accelerate investment, Japan’s investment into Africa remains relatively inactive. According to Japan External Trade Organization, Africa’s imports from Japan was approximated to be valued at USD 11.6 billion compared to USD 8.57 billion in exports as at 2015.
During the fourth TICAD Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Japan Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, pledged to invest USD 30 billion to boost African growth and infrastructural development by 2020. Japan’s interest in energy has led to USD 10 billion of the planned investment being earmarked for electricity generation projects and upgrading of urban transport. Japan has also been vowing to cooperate to ensure, among them, infrastructural development support. Case in point, the development of Kenya’s strategic Mombasa port.
Africa, apart from having the fattest growing economies in the world, it has also increasingly become a strategic content in terms of energy, minerals and agriculture commodities. Japan-Africa trade is estimated at $25 billion.
Japanese cooperation with Africa has been termed as one of equals and partnership. Japan’s ‘no condition’ aid policy has also rubbed fingers with African countries. The Japanese aid is therefore designed to create jobs and transfer technologies. And it is in this regard that TICAD V conference held in Japan attracted over 40 African heads of states.
- To develop a monograph on Africa – Japan relation in the 21st century
- To get Japan presences and impact realized in Africa development.
This monograph seeks to define ways in which;
- Africa-Japan relations could further be deepened. For instance, through intensifying the continent’s quest to better living conditions of her people but without necessarily having any ideological foundations shaping the demands and setting conditions for Japan’s developmental engagement in Africa.
- Legitimize economic and political reforms in forms of domination of for instance, free market, thus establishing how Japan could tap into the opportunities provided by the free market, and at the same time, recording significant development input into the Africa continent.
- Consolidate and highlight Japan’s developmental presence in Africa. This will help in conceptualizing how Japan’s engagement in Africa has affected the continent’s growth and development.
- Highlight what is foreseen to be the future of Africa-Japan relations.
- Evaluate impact of Japan’s pledges in Africa.