Speaking at the 8th TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development), Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, reportedly stated that the country will boost its cooperation with Africa. According to reports, Japan had held talks with more than 50 African nations in March.
In the conference, Hayashi expressed concerns over the increasing social and economic vulnerabilities of African nations due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, further intensifying their dependency on China.
Tokyo plans to shift focus from official development assistance to a private investment approach, in order to be on par with other Asian and Western aids in Africa, while also competing with China to provide an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative in the continent.
Hayashi stated that supporting private businesses will be the top priority in the upcoming TICAD in July.
Japan plans to assist Africa’s recovery from the pandemic by developing African countries’ fiscal autonomy and preventing private and sovereign debt defaults.
Another major reason for Japan to increase cooperation with Africa is the war in Ukraine. With the continent holding a significant number of votes in the UN, it is important for the country that African nations support rules-based order and rebuke the use of illegal force.
Out of 54 nations, only 28 voted in favor of the UN’s resolution that demanded the Kremlin to immediately stop using illegal force in Ukraine.
Also, by strengthening its ties with the continent, Japan will be able to advance its soft power abroad, as the pandemic allowed the country to convey its commitment to health governance.
The country also seeks to obtain support from African countries regarding its proposal to reform and become a permanent UN Security Council member.
Japan also needs to reinforce its ties with Africa to diversify its supply of mineral and energy resources, as the government plans to phase out oil imports from Russia, with Mozambique being a key nation in its LNG supply and infrastructure investment.
By supporting African activities, Japan also gets the opportunity to extend cooperation with partners including the EU, which recently committed to increasing economic investment and aid in the continent.