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Africa conference to call for rules-based maritime order

  • August 27, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 9:00 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Aug. 27 (Jiji Press) — Participants at a Japan-led African development conference in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, from Wednesday are expected to issue a declaration stressing the need for maintaining maritime order under the rule of law, it was learned Tuesday.

The Yokohama declaration is set to be adopted after a session among leaders on Friday, the final day of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD VII.

A draft of the document calls for “maintaining a rules-based maritime order” to combat illegal activities in the waters around Africa. The wording is believed to be a rebuke to China, which has been expanding activities off the coasts of the continent, according to informed sources.

Many African countries are stuck in so-called debt traps as they gave up economic and political concessions after failing to repay massive loans from the Asian powerhouse.

The conference will bring together leaders of Japan and from African countries, and representatives from aid donor nations for Africa, international organizations and private-sector companies.

The draft declaration says that “quality infrastructure that guarantees affordability…is fundamental for sustainable economic transformation,” an apparent reprimand of China’s use of debt trap diplomacy to spread its influence on the African continent.

It also calls for increasing private-sector investment in Africa, outlining Japan’s commitment to cooperating in areas such as technological innovation, human resources development and institution-building to promote business activities.

The draft declaration comprises three major pillars: “accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment,” “deepening sustainable and resilient society” and “strengthening peace and stability.”

Japan is seeking to use TICAD VII to signal that it has been a longtime patron of development aid to the continent, countering the rise of Chinese influence in the region.

“African development was discussed at the Group of Seven summit” held in Biarritz, southwestern France, through Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a press conference after the meeting. “Japan will make whatever contribution it can in this area.”

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