NEW YORK – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that Japan will focus on ways to improve Africa’s health system and curb extremism there during next year’s Tokyo-led African development summit, which will be held on the continent for the first time.
In a meeting with African leaders and officials in New York, Abe said next year’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Kenya would be Japan’s chance to show off its contribution to restructuring Africa’s health system and battling terrorism, including the fight against Boko Haram extremists.
Since the last TICAD summit, in 2013 in Yokohama, challenges such as the Ebola virus outbreak, the expansion of extremism and terrorism, and falling commodity prices threatened Africa’s economic foundations, as well as its peace and stability.
Abe said Japan would back up the African people’s “firm will” to overcome these challenges.
“In cooperation with each African country and each co-sponsor, Japan is determined to ensure success in the next TICAD summit for Japan, Africa and the whole of the international community,” Abe told the meeting, which was broadcast live over the Internet. The United Nations, World Bank and African Union Commission are all co-sponsors of the summit.
Abe has rallied Africa’s support for Japan’s bid to become a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council from next year. He has also sought close cooperation with African nations in reforming the 15-member council, a push that he has called an effort to better represent the international community of the 21st century.
“A majority of discussions at the Security Council concern peace and stability of Africa,” he said. “Japan is determined to make proactive contributions to such discussions, and we would like to have your support.”
In a separate meeting, Abe and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed to work closely together to ensure the TICAD summit’s success, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
In a Foreign Ministry press release, Abe also pointed to the controversial security laws enacted Sept. 18 as a specific action by Japan to further contribute to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide.
Kenyatta expressed support for the laws, which expand the scope of operations of Japanese troops abroad, saying the international community must take active steps in the face of new types of threats, the release added.