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Cote d’Ivoire throws ‘Abe Cup’ for visiting leader

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe watched the team final of a judo tournament named in his honor in the Cote d’Ivoire city of Abidjan on Saturday.

“I was impressed to know that Japan-originated judo is loved by all of you,” Abe said in an address. He presented the winning team with a trophy.

The tourney is usually referred to as the Japanese ambassador cup. This time, it was named the “Abe Cup” to commemorate the prime minister’s visit to the West African nation.

Japan provided 100 judo uniforms to Cote d’Ivoire’s judo federation.

With Tokyo hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, Abe is trying to promote sports exchanges during his African trip.

In Mozambique on Sunday, Abe was to meet members of the women’s national basketball team.

In Ethiopia, he will hold talks with a son of the late marathoner Abebe Bikila, who won gold in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and female marathoner Fatuma Roba, who won gold in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Abe watched the contest the day after holding summit talks with Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara. Abe conveyed Japan’s support for enhancing infrastructure and human resource development in the country through private- and public-sector efforts.

“Japan plans to support national development (in Cote d’Ivoire) by mobilizing the combined efforts of the public and private sectors,” Abe told Ouattara at their meeting at the president’s office.

Abe hopes the assistance will encourage more Japanese companies to launch operations in Africa.

Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Cote d’Ivoire, one of the economic centers of West Africa, a region with a population of some 300 million.

“I respect the fact that the country has restored peace and stability and is promoting national reconciliation,” Abe told Ouattara. Cote d’Ivoire is undergoing economic reconstruction after several years of political instability.

Ouattara called for expanding Japanese investment in his country. He said he hopes to upgrade living standards and underscored the need for private-sector investment.

Abe stressed that Japan will contribute even more actively to peace and stability in the region and in the international community, based on his policy of “proactive pacifism.”

Welcoming Abe’s policy, the president expressed support for Japan’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.