June 12, 2008

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, examines Japan’s relations with Africa, which recently received a boost from the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukada.

Observing that the summit was not only another indication of the global recognition of the increasing strategic significance of Africa, but also of Japan’s economic and political ambitions, the article surveys the various initiatives unveiled at the meeting, including: the doubling of Japan’s total official development assistance over the next five years to $3.4 billion (of which approximately $2 billion will be destined for Africa); $4 billion in soft loans to African countries for infrastructure improvement; $100 million in emergency food assistance; a new $2.5 billion “Facility for African Investment” fund to boost private investment in Africa through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation; a $560 million contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (60 percent of whose funding goes to Sub-Saharan Africa); a program to train 100,000 African health workers over the next five years; $10 billion dollars in funding over five years through Japan’s “Cool Earth Partnership” to help developing countries, including those in Africa, to reconcile economic growth with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions; and the invitation of an African “group of eight” ( Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania as well as the chair of the African Union Commission) to attend the upcoming G8 summit in Hokkaido Toyako. The essay then goes on to assess Japan’s motivations for launching its vigorous diplomatic and aid offensive at this time, how Africans will be affected by it, and what its impact will be on the interests of the United States as it intensifies its own engagement of Africa.

To read the full text of the article, “Rising Sun and Dark Continent: Japan’s Courtship of Africa,” click here.