Japan plans to include “concern” over excessive debt in the declaration for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development later this month, government sources said Sunday, a move aimed at calling out China’s lending practices in the region.
China has been criticized for handing out large loans under its Belt and Road infrastructure development initiative to countries that are ill-equipped to pay off the debt, often called debt-trap diplomacy.
The seventh session of the conference, held once every three years, will take place from Aug. 28 through 30 with leaders from 54 African countries and international organizations set to attend.
While named after the Japanese capital, the conference will be held in Yokohama.
Japan wants the post-conference declaration to include references to some African countries being saddled with debt, and touch on the importance of “high quality” infrastructure, a phrase Japan often uses to differentiate its projects from Chinese ones.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will co-chair the conference, plans to announce steps to support Japanese firms that want to do business in the region, as well as measures to help African countries with fiscal consolidation, the sources said.
One such measure would be to send financial experts to debt-ridden countries on multiyear missions to help improve their finances, they said.
Japan, whose working-age population is rapidly shrinking, also hopes to make it easier for African students to find work in the country after graduating.