Japan, African leaders end talks, pledge to address food crisis

The leaders of Japan and African countries concluded a two-day meeting in the Tunisian capital Tunis on Sunday, underlining their commitment to better deal with a food crisis aggravated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The leaders reportedly affirmed the importance of fair and transparent financing to spur growth in Africa, where China is increasing its influence through investment and development aid, according to Japanese government sources.

Participants pose for a family photo during the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Tunis, Tunisia, August 27, 2022. (TUNISIAN PRESIDENCY/HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency/Getty/Kyodo)

The meeting, the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD 8, took place amid growing concerns about the stability of food supplies and soaring food and oil prices. energy following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The food crisis is being felt hard in some African and Middle Eastern countries that are heavily dependent on cereals from Ukraine, a major producer.

Besides the war in Ukraine, the African economy is still affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan would inject $30 billion over the next three years into Africa’s development, including $300 million in co-financing with the African Development Bank to boost food production.

Kishida addressed the online meeting due to his COVID-19 infection. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi represents Japan at the Tunis meeting.

Japan and other Group of Seven countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, as well as the European Union – have condemned Russia for destroying Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure and imposed a blockade of its Black Sea ports which prevented shipments of Ukrainian crops.

Russia, for its part, has blamed food shortages on Western economic sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

G-7 members fear that some African countries will accept Moscow’s demands and even call for an easing of sanctions.

In his address, Kishida said Japan would “grow together” with Africa in what is seen as a veiled attempt to contrast Tokyo’s approach to development with that of China.

China has been criticized for using a “debt trap” policy in which it leverages debt to extract concessions from borrowing countries, such as long-term leases of port facilities and other infrastructure in strategically important areas.

Co-hosted by Japan, the United Nations, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program and the African Union Commission, TICAD has been held every three years since its fifth session in 2013. Previously, it took place every five years after its launch in 1993.

On Saturday, representatives from 48 African countries, including 20 leaders and international organizations, attended the meeting in Tunis, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

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The Japanese Prime Minister promises 30 billion dollars. over the next 3 years for Africa as China and Russia loom

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