Japan underscores desire to help Africa

30th August 2003

Japan's underscored its desire to help uplift Africa yesterday at the conclusion of the sixth session of a partnership forum with South Africa.

African development was actually one of the most important elements of Japanese foreign policy, senior vice-minister of foreign affairs Tetsuro Yano said in Pretoria.

Evidence of this was the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) Japan initiated 10 years ago.

Ticad focuses on Japanese aid to Africa.

Yano said Ticad had the same objectives as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).

"I am very hopeful that the development of Africa will be achieved.

Japan regards Ticad is one of the most important pillars of its foreign policy".

Japan was currently the second-largest provider of overseas development assistance to Africa.

Yano was speaking after a two-day session of the South Africa-Japan Partnership Forum in Pretoria.

The deliberations focused on bilateral ties in various fields.

South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said Japanese aid had done much to support South Africa in the provision of water, school buildings and medical infrastructure.

Japan helped, for example, to build 67 schools with 842 classrooms.

"We highly appreciate Japan's continued commitment to Africa and to the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment," Pahad said.

He confirmed President Thabo Mbeki would lead a South African delegation to the third Ticad meeting in Tokyo by the end of next month.

Relations between South Africa and Japan had grown significantly since 1994, Pahad said.

"In the last few years, our exports to Japan have increased six-fold while imports from them have increased four-fold".

This period also saw 42 major new Japanese investments in South Africa.

The nature of South African exports to Japan was changing, Pahad said.

"We are no longer just exporting raw material but more beneficiated material.

South Africa is now the fifth-largest exporter of motor vehicles and components to Japan".

Yano welcomed Mbeki's intention to attend the next Ticad conference, saying this reflected the importance South Africa attached to the Japanese aid programme.

"In advancing the agenda of Ticad, Japan wants to solicit maximum cooperation from South Africa," Yano said. – Sapa.