"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] Address by H.E. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, Ambassador on Special Mission and Former Prime Minister of Japan At Opening Session, TICAD Ministerial Follow-Up Meeting

[Place] Gaborone, Botswana
[Date] March 21, 2009
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Your Excellency Vice-President Merafhe of the Republic of Botswana,

Honorable ministers, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor to be able to meet once more my friends from countries all around Africa since TICAD IV was held in Yokohama. It is also a true pleasure and something which moves me deeply. First, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the representatives of various countries and related organizations for participating in this Follow-Up Meeting.

Before attending this meeting, I visited Kenya, and there I had the opportunity to meet Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, also known as "JOCVs," dispatched by Japan. Seeing so many Japanese engaging with a sense of mission in assistance to Africa and being moved at the spirit of determination of these young men and women working in the field, I am able to have strong expectations towards the consolidation and expansion of cooperation activities in which we walk side-by-side with the countries of Africa.

It will soon be a full year since TICAD IV, which called for a "Vibrant Africa." At TICAD IV I announced a number of concrete commitments in my address at the opening session. I also held individual meetings with each participating head of state and government.

The domestic Japanese media dubbed it the "Meeting Marathon," as I met with 47 African leaders over a period of three days. Through this series of talks, I came to the strong realization that Africa is now full of vibrancy as a result of striking economic growth and progress in political stability, and that we are now in the embryonic stage of a shift towards an "African century."

Yet at the same time, I felt even more intensely the urgency of responses to the numerous challenges of poverty and unemployment, the food crisis, insufficient access to energy, and infectious diseases.

With regard to climate change, I called for the heads of state and government to participate in Cool Earth Partnership initiated by myself, and many of them agreed with the initiative. I heard more than half the countries on the continent have now become partners. I would certainly like to see more countries joining in.

TICAD IV's achievements lie in the formulation of concrete measures for Japan to work with the countries of Africa in order to foster exactly this African vibrancy, while at the same time engaging in cooperation towards the resolution of various issues. At the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit held soon afterwards, I succeeded in reflecting the results of the discussions at TICAD IV concerning various areas, including responses to the food crisis.

I am extremely happy that since TICAD IV was convened, relevant countries and organizations have moved forward steadily in its follow-up. I am also greatly pleased that the Annual Progress Report has been compiled and this Ministerial Meeting has been held. I applaud the efforts of everyone involved.

What is really in question is the achievements in the months and years to come. The wave of the financial and economic crisis that has taken the world by storm since TICAD IV, is also moving across the African Continent. This crisis is a situation that had not been envisaged at the time TICAD IV was held, and I am aware that, in the midst of various negative impacts, there are concerns in African countries that development aid packages for Africa will suffer setbacks. This is why steady progress in TICAD process is called upon more than ever.

At the opening session of TICAD IV, I stated that Africa will become a powerful engine driving the growth of the world. What is necessary more than anything in uncertain circumstances like these is that this type of engine be run powerfully. African growth is not an issue merely for Africa. Instead, it is an imperative for the international community of the present. We therefore must have the achievements of TICAD IV come to even greater fruition. As the person who had the highest authority in convening TICAD IV, I would like to pledge once more that in the years to come the Government of Japan will continue to be fully committed to carry out the assistance measures it announced, and that I will see to it very carefully into the future. We must not forget that we held serious discussions at TICAD IV, confident that the 21st century would be the "African century", amidst feelings of exhilaration that we were now turning just such a new page.

I look forward to African countries redoubling their strong consciousness, as the foremost stakeholders, that the growth of Africa is their own concern, and also that they have responsibilities to the international community.

I hope that at this Meeting, the status of implementation of various assistance measures since TICAD IV are thoroughly verified by the participating Ministers and that recommendations will be made towards future progress. I also hope more than anything else that by having participants from African countries and related countries and organizations come together here, we will be able to deepen our friendship still further. This is because I firmly believe that it is these person-to-person relationships of trust, based on solid bonds of friendship, that form the foundations for promoting all types of cooperation.

I will close my remarks today by extending my sincere wishes for the good health of everyone here and for the success of this Meeting. Thank you very much.