Despite relatively long-standing connections, Japan feels its importance to Africa has slipped behind that of China, whose more aggressive approach has given it five times the trading volume and eight times the direct investment of Japan, according to a report in Channel NewAsia.
Japan will welcome dozens of leaders from Africa this weekend at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, held every five years. The conference is jointly organized by the United Nations, World Bank and African Union. More than 40 African countries are participating.
Japan is looking to boost economic ties and wrestle resources and market share away from an increasingly assertive China, the report says.
The Japan-Africa conference is not unique. The European Union, China, India, South Korea and Turkey hold their own conferences on African development to court African leaders in the competition for resources and market share.
But Japan feels the China effect keenly, Channel NewAsia says.
Japan’s ambassador to the conference, Makoto Ito, said in the article there was a vast difference in approach between how Tokyo went about investing in Africa and how Beijing did it.
“China is not tied” to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Assistance Committee rules aimed at reducing poverty and improving human rights, Ito said in the report. “Japan’s development assistance has always had and will always have an emphasis on African ownership.”