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When the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama drew to a close May 30, Sayaka Funada-Classen, leader of a Tokyo-based nongovernmental organization, felt the years of engagement with the government had partly paid off.

That was because Japan promised a significant increase in aid to the poverty-stricken continent — and because citizens’ groups were deeply involved in TICAD’s preparation and were able to hold various events on its sidelines, Funada said.

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