Japan, 50 African countries agree to beef up antipiracy measures

Japan and around 50 African countries agreed during a two-day ministerial meeting through Sunday in Morocco to cooperate to counter piracy.

A joint statement adopted by Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and his African counterparts at the Marrakesh meeting to follow up on the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, last held in 2008, also said the next TICAD session slated for June 2013 in Yokohama will focus on efforts to accelerate economic growth in Africa.

The ministers said in the statement that African development hinges upon the establishment of peace and enhanced governance capacity, and the international community should support the region’s efforts to achieve those goals.

To counter piracy, they pointed to the importance of beefing up capacity to ensure maritime security in African coastal countries.

The participants welcomed Japan’s initiative to host an international ministerial conference to discuss how to respond to large-scale natural disasters, which will be held in July in the three northeastern Japan prefectures hard hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March last year.

The African ministers also expressed their gratitude for Japanese official development assistance. At the previous TICAD in Yokohama, Tokyo vowed to double its Africa-bound ODA to $1.8 billion a year by 2012.

The statement said a 2008 action plan to promote trade and investment in Africa has been steadily implemented and that a new plan to be adopted at the fifth TICAD next year will incorporate further efforts by African countries to boost trade and investment.

The document also recognized the need to reform the U.N. Security Council at an early date.

TICAD, organized by Japan and the United Nations among others, is held every five years in Japan from 1993.