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Algerian envoy says Japan peacekeeping mission in South Sudan essential for Africa

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Algerian Ambassador to Japan Mohamed El Amine Bencherif on Tuesday welcomed Japan’s assistance in Africa, saying its participation in the United Nations’ South Sudan peacekeeping mission is essential to restoring stability in the strife-torn region.

“Japan is a great actor in humanitarian assistance” and through its presence “contributes to preservation of peace and stability in Africa,” Bencherif said during a courtesy visit to The Japan Times.

Japan last year passed new security laws that enable the Self-Defense Forces to protect other countries’ troops using armed force if necessary.

Bencherif said that Japan’s plan to expand this role is welcome and should not negatively affect the peacekeeping efforts as long as Tokyo’s decision complies with U.N. resolutions and international law.

“Without stability we can’t develop ourselves and we can’t build partnerships” with other countries that would be beneficial for the future of Africa, he said.

The ambassador also stressed the importance of cooperation in working to eradicate terrorism, which is seen as a growing threat to Africa.

Bencherif, who was appointed ambassador in November 2014 and officially assumed his post in February 2015, hopes that Algeria can serve as a bridge connecting Japan with Africa.

He has high hopes for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a program aimed at accelerating Japanese investment in the continent. The summit was held for the sixth time in August.

Bencherif hopes that the permanent presence of Japanese firms will help in the further development of his nation, including in sectors such as infrastructure and agriculture.

He said Japan’s investment could contribute to Algeria’s goal of diversifying its economy, ensuring security and stability, and modernizing its health care system, while also helping diversify the industrialization of Africa.

Last year, Japan invested in the establishment of Algeria’s longest highway.

Bencherif said he hopes Japan, which serves as an economic model for his country, can further build a stronger strategic partnership with Algeria.

“It would be a win-win partnership,” he said, stressing already strong bilateral ties.