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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Japan eyes global warming as pillar of aid to Africa.

Kyodo News, The Japan Times on line, November 13, 2007.
Japan plans to make support of Africa’s fight against global warming one of the pillars of a declaration to be made at next year’s international African aid conference in Yokohama, Foreign Ministry officials said Monday.

The “Yokohama Declaration,” to be adopted at the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD, in May, will also call for measures to help accelerate economic growth, promote peace and prevent environmental degradation in the region.

By adopting the declaration, Japan apparently aims to differentiate its policy toward Africa from resource-hungry China’s efforts to cement ties with the region.

At a ministerial preparatory meeting in August for the Yokohama conference, Japan criticized China for violating international rules by offering loans to African and Southeast Asian nations in a bid to secure natural resources in those regions.

Japan has hosted the African aid conference once every five years since 1993, jointly with international agencies, including the United Nations and the World Bank. Next year’s event will be the first held outside Tokyo.

Japan will call for promotion of clean energy sources, including hydraulic and solar power, and combating desertification in many parts of Africa, the officials said.

It will also seek to work for peace in the region by helping African nations institute democratic processes and hold elections mainly through financial assistance, they said.

Countries around the world are vying to step up their engagement with Africa. The European Union, for example, will hold its first joint summit with the African Union in seven years in December in Lisbon.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari is going to South Africa and Botswana this week as part of its bid to strengthen relations.

Japan is lagging far behind China in assistance to Africa.

The Japanese government spent about $1.1 billion in 2005 in assistance to the region, a mere 10 percent of its budget for financial support extended to developing countries.

China, in contrast, disbursed 44 percent of its similar budget appropriations to Africa.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has visited 11 African countries over the past two years, while few high-ranking Japanese government officials have visited the region since mid-2006, when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi went there.

Beijing also maintains the presence of more than 1,000 peacekeeping troops in Africa, but no Self-Defense Forces personnel are on any such mission there.

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