Onus on Japan to spur African development

by Setsuko Kamiya

Given that Japan is hosting both the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development and the Group of Eight summit this year, the international community expects it to show leadership in promoting the sustainable development of African countries, Sadako Ogata, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, said Tuesday.

The president of JICA, which provides official development assistance through technical assistance, welcomed the government’s promise to double ODA to African countries by 2012.

“There are so many ways to spend (ODA), and so I really would like to see this plan implemented,” said Ogata, a former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. ODA is an essential tool for Japan to make a peaceful contribution to the world, she added.

“The interdependency of nations continues to spread, and we are helping each other. Thus, Japan should cooperate with peoples and countries of the world by making many (ODA) contributions,” she said.

Speaking at the Japan Press Club in Tokyo, Ogata said that while conflict, poverty and infectious diseases are problems that still need to be resolved in African countries, the overall condition of Africa is improving and the continent is showing signs of growth.

Ogata said countries there are increasingly interested in how Japan, as well as other Asian countries, succeeded in developing with the support of foreign aid and the investment from the private sector that followed.

“During the TICAD meeting, we would like to learn from each other how we can utilize both the official development assistance and investment from the private sector and promote that in African countries,” she said.

TICAD IV, to be held from May 28 to 30 in Yokohama, will set the agenda and collect pledges to promote economic growth, ensure security and address environmental issues in African countries.

Currently, leaders of 46 African nations are scheduled to attend, as well as several presidents of international organizations, including the World Bank.