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Indo-Pacific initiative included in TICAD declaration

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with African leaders at the TICAD closing ceremony on Friday in Yokohama.

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) on Friday adopted the Yokohama Declaration, which for the first time spells out the free and open Indo-Pacific initiative (see CLIP) that Japan aims to realize, as it concluded in Yokohama.

TICAD is cosponsored by the Japanese government along with the United Nations, the African Union and other organizations.

At the closing ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe summarized the latest conference, saying, “We were able to set a firm direction for becoming a partner of Africa, which is developing dynamically.”

The declaration stipulated that they “take good note” of the Indo-Pacific initiative, which was announced by Abe at the previous TICAD meeting in Nairobi in August 2016.

As some African countries are cautious about the initiative due to their close ties with China, the declaration avoided using strong expressions such as “support.” Instead, it stipulated “take good note” rather than “take note” with an aim to convey a more positive connotation.

With the exception of Sudan, 53 African countries were represented in the just-concluded conference.

China is advancing its maritime activities by force and increasing its influence over Africa through its massive Belt and Road Initiative. By including the Indo-Pacific initiative in the declaration, the Japanese government aims to strengthen cooperation with African countries.

Regarding the summit meeting of the Group of 20 major economies held in Osaka in June, the declaration said they “welcome the G20 consensus on macroeconomic stability as stipulated in the G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration and the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment.” The G20 principles pledged to achieve sustainable growth while preserving sustainability of public finances and environmental considerations. These principles were shared with African countries at the conference.

The Japanese government plans to help African countries manage their public debt appropriately. The government plans to send experts to African countries where fiscal conditions have apparently been deteriorating.

The declaration also “appreciates the business training provided through the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative),” which nurtures human resources through education and training at graduate schools and companies in Japan.

In his keynote speech at the TICAD, Abe set a goal of nurturing 3,000 personnel in the next six years who play a leading role in business between Japan and Africa.

The Yokohama Declaration reaffirmed the need for urgent reform of U.N. organizations, including the U.N. Security Council. It also emphasized the need to address environmental issues, including the reduction of plastic waste and waste management.

It has been confirmed that TICAD will be held every three years. The next meeting will be held in Africa in 2022.

CLIP: Free and open Indo-Pacific initiative

The initiative aims for peace, stability and prosperity in the Pacific and Indian oceans regions, which connect the Asian and African continents, through the promotion of the rule of law, freedom of navigation and peaceful settlement of disputes. It has received support from the United States, India and Australia, among other countries.

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