Japan’s Chequebook Diplomacy In Africa Lacks Sincerity

Japan's Chequebook Diplomacy In Africa Lacks Sincerity
Shinzo Abe attends a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta after their talks in Nairobi.

AFRICANGLOBE – Japan’s attempt at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in late August to politicize the so-called Japan-Africa summit cannot convince Africa of its sincerity in offering help.

Its failure to do so at the conference held on Aug. 27-28 in Nairobi, Kenya, is also a fact that cannot be changed by sugar-coated coverage by Japanese media.

This is shown in the outcome document, the Nairobi Declaration, which rejects Japan’s intended texts about reforming the United Nations (UN) Security Council or freedom of navigation.

It is less than Japan desired, much less than the claim in the Aug. 29 report by Japan’s Kyodo news agency that an agreement on the role of international law in keeping maritime order was reached despite the tension in the East and South China Seas.

Similar Japanese media reports, distorting and misleading, are trying to direct Japan-Africa relations toward a confrontation with China in order to damage the traditionally friendly ties between China and Africa, analysts said.

Japan’s deliberate disparagement of China-Africa cooperation during the TICAD meeting in Nairobi as reported by African media also served this end.

However, this little trick, as well as its attempt at the prior high-ranking officials’ meeting to shift the focus of the TICAD agenda and outcome document from the development and improvement of livelihood in Africa, was met only with disapproval by leaders of many African countries.

The leaders made their stance clear: They oppose Japan’s politicizing the TICAD, and Japan’s imposing its will and issues elsewhere on Africa.

In fact, African countries know very well what the actual purpose of Japan’s investments is. Some African media have even described Japan’s assistance pledges as mere publicity stunts.

Japan wants to secure African support for its intended entry into the UN Security Council, a Sierra Leone news website reckons.

Africa’s oil is another target of Japan’s after an earthquake forced the closure of the Fukushima nuclear station, it said.

Only one third of the investments of 30 billion U.S. dollars by 2018 that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged at the meeting is for the development of infrastructure, Nigeria’s mainstream Leadership newspaper reported.

The rest from the private sector can only benefit Japanese businesses rather than the African people, it said.

No wonder African countries have appealed to Japan to base its help on mutual benefits, instead of seeking only political returns or an access to Africa’s rich natural resources and huge market of product processing.

It is the first time that the TICAD was hosted in Africa. However, an attendance by barely over half of the countries on the continent may indicate a lack of interest on Africa’s part in Japan’s insincere chequebook diplomacy.


By: Qu Junya