Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday said the hosting of the first Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD-VI) on the African soil should be seen as clear demonstration that the partnership connecting Japan and African has entered, really, “a mutually beneficial stage.”
This year’s edition of the conference is TICAD’s sixth, most of which had were held in Japan.
Prime Minister Abe reminded African leaders present, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, that, “We have a feeling in our gut that in Africa, where possibilities abound, Japan can grow vigorously. Japanese companies can grow vigorously,” he said, addressing the three-day conference held at in the Kenyatta International Convention Center in Nairobi, Kenya.
According to him, Japan is a country that ardently hopes to resolve the issues facing Africa together with Africa, and will not let up in its efforts.
“We want to indulge in as much vitality and self-confidence as we can from you, when you are moving forward with your eyes firmly fixed on the future. That is why some 70 Japanese companies have sent executives here to TICAD,” Abe noted.
The Chairman of Keidanren, Mr. Sadayuki Sakakibara, according to Minister Abe, “is also with us. It is almost as if the entire Who’s Who in the Japanese business world has come to join us here at TICAD.” Keidanren is the Japanese Business Federation, a comprehensive economic organization with a membership of more than 1,340 representative companies of Japan, 109 nationwide industrial associations and 47 regional economic organizations (as of June, 2016).
“It is Japanese companies that are committed to quality. Theirs is a manufacturing philosophy that holds each individual worker in high esteem,” Abe told his cheering audience. “Our hunch is that the time has come to make the best of Japan’s capabilities, Japanese companies’ capabilities, for the advancement of Africa, where you seek nothing but quality in your socio-economic development,” adding “We must not let a good opportunity slip away. I declare to you that we will launch the “Japan-Africa Public and Private Economic Forum” as a permanent forum.”
He promised the gathering that members of his Cabinet, together with top executives from Japan’s major business associations and corporations, would visit Africa once every three years.
“They will meet with their African counterparts to pinpoint issues from the vantage point of businesses, identifying what needs to be done to enable Japanese and African companies to do more business together going forward. This makes it a forum bringing the power of the public and private sectors together to forge solutions,” he emphasized.
In his address, Mr. Abe highlighted “a growing number of young people and companies from Japan” who “pin their expectations on the future of Africa. According to him, Africa has leapfrogged over legacy technologies and aims at cutting-edge quality. “It is little wonder that an increasing number of young people from Japan find Africa intriguing and want to be a part of it,” he said.
The partnership connecting Japan and Africa has entered, really, a mutually beneficial stage,” he said. “Japan’s pledges I am introducing now will also benefit both of us, Africa and Japan,” he stated.
Disclosing his government’s accomplishment toward African development, Mr. Abe said, “The pledges my government announced three years ago in Yokohama still have two years remaining before they fall due, and yet 67 percent of them have already been carried out.” According to him, if they were to
combine investment from the private sector, “I expect the total will amount to US$30 billion.”
“This is an investment that has faith in Africa’s future, an investment for both Japan and Africa to grow together,” he added.
According to him, in the 23 years since the TICAD process began, the total amount of ODA to Africa that Japan has carried out amounts to US$47 billion. “Joined by Japan’s private sector, the Africa-Japan relationship is poised to aim at an even higher peak,” he assured his audience.