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Japan intends to boost its relationship with African nations this year by implementing its 2008 pledge to double their official development assistance by 2012 and supporting Japanese private-sector investment in the continent, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Wednesday.

“Africa, in the process of recovering from the global economic crisis, is attracting increasing attention from Japanese companies,” Maehara told representatives from 37 African nations that have diplomatic missions in Tokyo.

Specifically, the minister said Tokyo is set to extend cooperation for development of energy resources, construction of regionwide infrastructure and liberalization and expansion of trade and investment in the continent.

Maehara said he will host a ministerial meeting in Africa this year to follow up on the fourth session of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a forum to discuss Japan’s commitment to African development held in May 2008.

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