EDITORIAL | Africa: Japan in the Best Position to Build Bridges with the G7
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has just completed visits to four countries in Africa.
During meetings with the leaders of Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique, Kishida affirmed the importance of maintaining a free and open international order. He emphasized that it is based on the rule of law, and that the unilateral changing of the status quo by force is not acceptable.
Prime Minister Kishida also pledged support for high-quality infrastructure projects.
Leveraging the trust earned by providing assistance over many years, Japan is now in an ideal position. It can serve as a bridge for cooperation between G7 member nations and emerging and developing countries in the “Global South.” That includes the African countries. It is a highly commendable position.
PM Fumio Kishida and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo make a joint press announcement in Ghana on May 1. (© Prime Minister’s Office of Japan)
Contrary Influences in the Region
Russia is currently invading Ukraine in defiance of international law. As for China, there are growing concerns that Beijing is seeking to increase its influence in the region. It lures developing countries into a “debt trap” by making large loans to them for reasons such as infrastructure development.
The G7 nations, including Japan, are seeking to counter these moves by Russia and China. Nonetheless, the active cooperation hoped for from nations belonging to the Global South has yet to materialize.
There are several reasons why countries in the Global South do not necessarily support G7 positions. Some have to do with their economic ties with China and Russia. Others reflect their past colonization by European countries, as well as the authoritarian character of many of their governments.
Quite to the contrary, they sometimes adopt overtly pro-Chinese and pro-Russian stances. Africa has a collective population of approximately 1.4 billion people, and it has come to be known as the “last great emerging market.”
Voting with Russia and China
Meanwhile, Russia and China have been moving to increase their influence on the continent through their military prowess and economic power, respectively.
Some 30% of the 54 African nations in the United Nations General Assembly opposed or abstained from voting on a resolution condemning Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Of the four countries Prime Minister Kishida visited on his trip, Egypt and two other countries voted for the resolution. Mozambique abstained. All four countries abstained on a resolution to suspend Russia’s participation in the UN Human Rights Council.
The Japan-Mozambique Summit Meeting was held on May 4 in Mozambique. (© Prime Minister’s Office of Japan)
Japan’s Special Position in Africa
Japan has no historical baggage regarding the nations of Africa. It provides ODA to African countries and has hosted the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) since 1983. TICAD, moreover, promotes high-level policy dialogue among African leaders and their development partners.
Having provided detailed support according to the actual needs of each country, Japan has room to exert influence. Moreover, Japan is the host for the 2023 G7 Summit, and it will be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council during all of 2024.
There should be a follow-up to this recent African trip at the upcoming G7 Summit in Hiroshima. Among other things, Prime Minister Kishida should emphasize the importance of cooperation between the G7 and the Global South.
We would also like to see him propose a framework that addresses the specific challenges faced by countries in the Global South.
(Read the editorial in Japanese.)
Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun
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