Japan pledges to strengthen post-COVID development cooperation with Africa

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Sunday he is committed to strengthening post-COVID-era development cooperation with countries in Africa, where the influence of China has steadily grown, following a two-day virtual meeting with his African counterparts.

Hayashi said he and representatives from around 50 African countries also shared the importance of transparent and fair development finance amid concerns over Beijing’s “debt trap”, in which investment recipient countries Chinese are saddled with massive loans that they cannot repay.

The online meeting was organized to prepare the ground for the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD, scheduled for August, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

“Since we held the seventh TICAD meeting (in 2019), one of the biggest changes hitting Africa has been the novel coronavirus,” Hayashi told reporters after the latest ministerial meeting on the initiative. led by Japan to help Africa’s development.

“By focusing on the quality of growth, we will continue to support development in Africa and their achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Hayashi added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the African economy and society, which has necessitated the support of the international community.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is increasing pressure on African countries by disrupting energy and food supplies, and closer cooperation will be vital, Hayashi told the meeting, according to the Japanese ministry.

In such a difficult economic situation, the Japanese minister said he is ready to support African countries that want to get out of the debt trap, the ministry said.

“Japan will work with international organizations to create an environment in which developing countries, especially those in Africa, do not have to depend on such funding,” Hayashi said without naming China. “We must not allow such financing practices to prevail and destabilize developing economies that need financial resources the most.”

The next TICAD meeting to be chaired by Tunisia is scheduled for August 27-28, although details including whether it will be held in a virtual format are still being arranged, according to the ministry.

Tunisia will be the second African country to host TICAD after Kenya in 2016.

Co-sponsored by Japan, the United Nations and a few other international organizations, TICAD was launched in 1993. It was last held in August 2019 in the port city of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

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