Contributed article to La Presse de Tunisie and Assabah by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on the Occasion of Holding the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) in Tunisia (in English)

August 26, 2022

On track to holding the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) in Tunisia

[Provisional translation]

Japan will hold the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) in Tunis on August 27 and 28. Through active mutual visits by leading political figures and other exchanges at various levels, Japan and Tunisia have built up extremely favorable bilateral relations since Tunisia's independence in 1956. Tunisia has many points in common with Japan, including that we are both maritime nations rich in historical heritage with policies that emphasize human resource development. It is truly gratifying that we are able to hold TICAD in Tunisia.
After the curtain closed on the Cold War, the interest of developed countries in supporting Africa declined. It was in that context that in 1993 Japan, reasserting the importance of African development, launched TICAD. The characteristic feature of TICAD is its spirit of unfailingly supporting the autonomous development of Africa and cooperating with Africa on equal footing. This is based on Japan’s own experience after World War II of receiving support from the international community while also achieving reconstruction through its own self-help efforts. With population growth buoyed up by the young, Africa is a treasure trove of potential now more than ever. I am currently advocating New Capitalism, and Japan will continue to make every possible effort for African-led sustainable development, with Japan and Africa working as “partners that grow together.
Reflecting this spirit of Japan and Africa taking this journey together, it was decided that TICAD, which initially convened in Japan on each occasion, would be held alternately in Japan and then Africa every three years, with the sixth conference, held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2016, becoming the first TICAD to convene in Africa. At TICAD 7, held in Yokohama in 2019, the promotion of business was central to the discussions, and private companies were given the status of official partners for the first time in the history of the conference. I intend to further accelerate this trend of placing importance on investment and business in TICAD 8 as well.
Tunisian companies are known internationally for their human resources attaining a high level of education and for cultivating wide-ranging networks in Africa. I believe Tunisian and Japanese companies have the potential to cooperate in fostering win-win relationships within the African market. Given that, I hope to take advantage of this TICAD 8 opportunity to launch a Japan-Tunisia Business Promotion Committee, creating a framework for public- and private-sector entities to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues frankly, come up with solutions, and further promote business.
As we prepare to hold TICAD 8, we underscore two shared challenges of the international community that need a response. The first of these is measures against infectious diseases, as seen in the spread of COVID-19. They resulted in a slowdown in economic growth and the loss of employment and educational opportunities and caused enormous harm to the particularly vulnerable, including women, young people, and the poor, leading to concerns about widening disparities. The question of how to “build back better” will surely be a major theme of African development going forward.
The second is the challenge being pitted against a free and open international order based on the rule of law. The world has come to its first turning point since the end of the Cold War in the late 20th century. Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine has made this shift to a new age clear to all. Russia’s aggression has also disrupted international energy and food supplies, resulting in enormous impacts on Africa’s economy and society. Furthermore, unfair and opaque development finance impedes the sustainable development of vulnerable countries.

Japan will utilize TICAD to make contributions towards overcoming these challenges. Africa is a treasure trove of potential even as it faces a wide range of challenges of modern society such as widening disparities, climate change, and terrorism and conflicts. TICAD 8 aims to deliver concrete results in terms of creating a resilient society together, using an approach that places importance on Japanese-style investment in people and quality of growth.

As the first large-scale international conference for high-level discussions between Japan and African countries since the pandemic began, TICAD 8 is an extremely valuable diplomatic opportunity. Japan will work in cooperation with the TICAD host country, Tunisia, in order for Japan and Africa to together build a sustainable world.

Prime Minister of Japan

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