"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Remarks by H.E. Mr. Seiji Maehara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, at the Tokyo African Club (TAC) Meeting on 12 January, 2011

[Date] January 12, 2011
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

His Excellency Ambassador Mulumba,

Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Tokyo,

Distinguished members of the African Diplomatic Corps,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the reception for His Majesty the Emperor's Birthday at the end of last year, I met Ambassador Mulumba and proposed to have a meeting as early as possible to exchange views with ambassadors from African countries. It is therefore my greatest pleasure to be able to host this meeting today at the start of the new year. And I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to you all that you are making efforts anytime to strengthen our relations.

Africa, while facing issues such as poverty and conflicts, is steadily making progress as "the continent of hope and opportunity," due to its abundant natural resources and robust economic growth in recent years. Taking this into account, Japan intends to further strengthen its diplomacy toward Africa. I myself visited Tunisia and Algeria last month to attend the Japan-Arab Economic Forum.

Our African diplomatic agenda at the start of this year is packed with important events. First of all, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Makiko Kikuta, is currently visiting Mauritania, Senegal, and Mali.

In Sudan, the process of the historic Southern Sudan Referendum has been underway since last Sunday, for which Japan has dispatched a Referendum Observation Mission consisting of 15 members. In addition to the smooth completion of the voting process, Japan expects that both the north and south Sudanese sides will accept the result of the referendum, and join hands for future peace and stability in Sudan.

The situation in Côte d'Ivoire remains unpredictable. Japan appreciates the mediation initiative taken by the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and the AU (African Union), and hopes for an early and peaceful resolution of the situation in a way that respects the will of the people of Côte d'Ivoire, as demonstrated through their votes.

These issues, as well as the situation in Somalia, will also be treated as main topics at the AU Summit to be held in Ethiopia at the end of this month. We intend to send a high-level political representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the preceding 18th Session of the Executive Council.

In order to further support the consolidation of peace and democracy, as well as the self-reliance and development of Africa, Japan will promote the TICAD process this year as well. First of all, I intend to host the Third TICAD Ministerial Follow-up Meeting by the middle of this year in Africa, together with relevant organizations. Although Japan is in a difficult financial situation, it will faithfully implement the TICAD IV pledge to double its ODA (official development assistance) and provide support to double private sector investment. Moreover, many of the commitments Japan made during the latter half of last year will also benefit African countries. These include the "Kan Commitment" on health and education, the "Life in Harmony" Initiative on biodiversity, and the strengthening of cooperation toward the realization of human security confirmed in the Joint Communiqué regarding the Reinforcement of the Cooperative Relationship between Japan and the AU. As far as the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) are concerned, Japan will hold a conference this year in Tokyo to follow up on the United Nations High-level Plenary Meeting of last September.

Another engine driving the TICAD process forward is the strengthening of economic relations between Japan and Africa. Africa is in the process of recovering from the global economic crisis and is attracting increasing attention from Japanese companies.

I would like to promote cooperation for development of mineral and energy resources, construction of region-wide infrastructure, and liberalization and expansion of trade and investment, in order to strengthen the partnership between Japan and Africa. Regarding global issues, the COP17 (17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) will be held this year in South Africa. Also, the United Nations Reform is in progress. In tackling these issues, Japan would like to continue to closely cooperate with African countries.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I am aware that the African Diplomatic Corps in Tokyo is very well organized, and has been making great contributions to the TICAD follow-up process and other initiatives. I am also aware that it has been holding meetings and harnessing opinions on individual themes and regions, and making proposals to my Ministry and other relevant organizations. I will keep up my efforts, together with Your Excellencies, to strengthen Japan's relations with Africa, and I ask for your continued understanding and cooperation. Thank you.