Japanese Prime Minister H.E Fumio Kishida’s recent visit to some African countries is a move aimed at seeking solidarity with Africa against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and strengthening Africa-Japan ties.
Ms Ono Hikariko, the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, observes that Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique have strong ties with Japan and are the biggest recipients of Japanese donor aid to Africa.
During his visit, Kishida elaborated how Japan is strengthening its bilateral ties with Africa and urged African countries to explore existing opportunities to do business with Japan by collaborating with Japanese people and Japan’s private sector.
In high level discussions with the leaders of the African nations he met, Kishida assured them of his government’s commitment to support their development agenda. During the Tokyo International Conference on African Development-TICAD 8 Conference held in Tunis in August 2022, Japan gave thirty million dollars to support development in Africa. TICAD is a framework of engagement between Japan and Africa to promote trade and development to promote trade.
Ms. Ono stated that Japan demands the unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. She said that Japan and Africa should censure Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and help restore international order. ‘Invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a violation of international Law which Japan condemns,’ she said.
The Japanese Prime Minister discussed emergency humanitarian assistance to Sudan, participation of African countries in this year’s G7 Summit and strengthening bilateral ties between African countries and Japan.
In his discussion with Kenya’s President William Samoei Ruto, the two agreed to strengthen relations and to create more win-win opportunities. Kishida said that Japan would continue to support development and investment opportunities in Kenya, especially for start-up companies and the public and private sector investments.
According to Mr. Akihiro Takamitsu, the immediate past Chairman of Japanese Business Association in Kenya and the current General Manager of a leading Japanese trading House Mitsui & Co., there are over 114 Japanese companies seeking business opportunities in Kenya in various fields.
Japan is Kenya’s leading development partner in areas of Human Resource development, Economic and infrastructure development, Agriculture, Health and Education. In 2021, Japan gave Kenya 200 million Kenya shillings to combat the Covid -19 pandemic, which is about 18% of its total gross bilateral Oversees Development Assistance (ODA).
There are many Kenyan students currently studying in Japan through Japanese government scholarships, observes Ms. Dinah Ewuradjoa Ogara, a Phd Research student in Japan. The number of Kenyans working and doing business in Japan is increasing.
Kenya which is one of the leading recipients of Japanese aid in Africa is currently celebrating its 60th Anniversary since it established relations with Japan. The Dongo Kundu bridge project in the coastal region currently under construction is considered to be the longest bridge in Africa. The project has received Kshs 6 billion grant and Kshs 50 billion Concessional loan from the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Through JICA, Japan has been instrumental in the development and expansion of berths at the Kenya Port Authority (KPA) and the establishment of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) by providing both finance and technical aid. (JKUAT) now providing learning opportunities to students from Kenya and other regions of Africa is the biggest such technical university in Africa.
By Denise A. O. Kodhe,
Media Expert / Director General,
Institute for Development and Leadership in Africa (IDEA for Africa)