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Japan to focus on quality in African investments

  • August 26, 2016
  • , Mainichi , p. 3
  • JMH Translation

By Yohei Maeda


The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 27-28. This is the first time that TICAD is being held in Africa. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the conference’s co-chair, departed for Kenya on Aug. 25.


Africa is dubbed the “last frontier,” but China is extending its influence there and Japan is lagging behind. Japanese companies making inroads into the continent face various risks, such as terrorism and epidemics. The government’s support is necessary to improve the investment environment.


Abe told reporters at Haneda Airport on Aug. 25: “TICAD is the means for Japan to help Africa realize its dream. We would like to contribute to Africa’s development through high-quality technologies and training of human resources, which are areas where Japan has great expertise, and build a win-win relationship.”


Abe will arrive in Nairobi two days before the conference opens. He and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will divide the work of meeting with African leaders and ministers. Keidanren [Japan Business Federation] Chairman Sadayuki Sakakibara and representatives of 77 Japanese companies and organizations are also travelling with them in a concerted government-private sector effort to promote Japan.


However, China is also stepping up its inroads into Africa through the expansion of economic and military aid and infrastructure projects. According to IMF statistics, Chinese trade with Africa as of 2012 was $136.7 billion (approximately 13.7 trillion yen), or about four times Japan’s $31 billion.


The government intends to publicize Japan’s unique strengths, such as high quality, human resources development, and environmental conservation. It will advertise the good quality of power plants, bridges, ports, and other major infrastructure projects, post-completion maintenance, and other long-term warranties. A senior Foreign Ministry official stresses the need for an investment strategy that will give full play to Japan’s strengths.


However, Africa is also plagued with various factors of uncertainty, such as the Ebola epidemic, the spread of terrorism, and the rapid dive in crude oil prices, which severely impact African economies. Certain Japanese companies wary of these risks have scaled down their operations or kept new projects on hold. Abe plans to announce new aid policies focused on building a public health system for the prevention of contagious diseases. (Abridged)

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