On the occasion of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to be held in Yokohama on Aug. 28–30, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold individual meetings with the leaders of more than 30 African nations, sources revealed on Aug. 19. At the TICAD held three years ago in Kenya, Prime Minister Abe announced the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” built on the rule of law and freedom of navigation, and the Japanese government has included the concept in the draft of the declaration to be adopted at the upcoming TICAD.
According to top officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some [African] countries do not support the concept, but the Prime Minister aims to have the declaration adopted by gaining the understanding of the leaders of African nations by holding individual meetings with them.
Almost all of the 54 African nations are expected to attend TICAD. Of those, the Prime Minister plans to hold bilateral meetings with the more than 30 nations that will be represented by their top leaders or equivalent persons. Each summit will be 15 minutes in length so the meetings will altogether take seven hours, it is anticipated.
China is expanding its influence in Africa by offering large amounts of economic assistance, and it is thought that China is urging African nations not to send their top leaders to TICAD. The behind-the-scenes rivalry between Japan and China is heating up. (Slightly abridged)