Japan-Africa—elevating the partnership to the next level

Japan-Africa—elevating the partnership to the next level

[INTERVIEW]

Mr. Shunsuke Takei
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs member, the house of the representatives

Mr. Shunsuke Takei sat down with JAPAN and the WORLD to elaborate on the need to invest in Africa’s social infrastructure as well as in manufacturing industries and human resources development.


—Mr. Takei, you were recently appointed to a post in charge of African Affairs. What is your opinion on the current relations between Japan and Africa? And what do you think are the main issues Japan faces in realizing the commitments made at the TICAD VI?

Despite an increasing population, Africa continues to achieve growth and abundance in natural resources. During my last visit there, I was once more reminded of this. Politically and economically, Africa is an important partner for Japan. At the same time, it faces issues such as poverty, economic inequalities as well as terrorism and conflicts.
The first Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD I) was launched in 1993 in order to address these predicaments. I feel that Japan has since then, consistently led efforts by the international community to address Africa’s developmental issues. Thanks to the TICAD initiative, the relationship between Japan and Africa has developed favorably and in this sense, I believe this is an important mechanism for both parties.

For the very first time, this year’s TICAD VI convention was held on the African continent. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was also in attendance, announced that over the next three years, Japan would provide human resource development for 10 million people and a total of $30 billion in public-private investment for Africa’s future. Moreover, the representatives of 77 Japanese companies and universities also visited Africa, and 73 memorandums of understanding were signed. Japan, through these outcomes, would like to send a clear message that its public and private sectors unite in backing the Agenda 2063; a long-term development plan drawn up by Africa itself, thereby elevating the Japan-Africa partnership to the next level.

In regards to any issues Japan may face in realizing the commitments made, I would say, the need from now on, to thoroughly implement follow-up; which is one of TICAD’s biggest strengths, especially at such a time as this when expectations are running high both amongst African countries and outside the continent, as a result of the historic success of TICAD VI. We must meet these expectations by shifting to the firm implementations of pledges in various fields, such as economic diversification, industrialization, building a resilient health system and good foundations for peace and stability in Africa.

—It is hoped that Japan will display its strength in Africa through the supply of quality infrastructure. Can you tell us a little more about this?

The investment for Africa’s future announced at the TICAD VI by Japan, includes the deployment of about $10 billion for quality infrastructure. This means investment that will take into account conditions such as life-cycle costs; to promote Africa’s economic diversification and industrialization, safety, resilience to natural disasters, social environmental standards and addressing the developmental needs of the other side through the creation of jobs for the local people, human resource development and so on. In other words, Japan’s policy in TICAD is to promote investment that will be useful for that specific country’s future.

We envision an expansive development that will focus on strengthening connectivity through good roads and ports; energy development utilizing Africa’s abundant geothermal resources amongst others and Japanese technology. Sustainable urban development through the construction of urban transport, will help alleviate the congestion caused by the concentration of people in cities, waste treatment systems amongst others.

Japan places top priority on the security of the African people and hopes for quality growth. As true partners, we must help each other grow and bearing this in mind, Japan will firmly support Africa’s own efforts.

—What do you think is necessary to establish the “Made in Africa” brand (for example energy, industry and education)?

In addition to quality investment in social infrastructure like electricity, roads and ports, I think the development of Africa’s manufacturing industries and promotion of exports requires the sound development of human resources. Japan’s initiatives, announced at TICAD VI, take this perspective into consideration. In addition to expansive development centered on roads and ports to strengthen connectivity and energy development such as geothermal generation, Japan aims for the advancement of African industries and human resources through kaizen activities and the African Business Education for Youth (ABE) Initiative version 2.0.

While continuing the policy of training pilots for the development of Africa’s industries and the African Business of Japanese companies, as announced at TICAD VI in the ABE initiative 2.0, our newest objective is training managers and engineers to be immediately useful on the front lines, who can promote kaizen activities. Through quality investment and human resources development, two areas in which it excels, Japan will continue to contribute to the advancement of Africa’s manufacturing industries and promotion of its exports.


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