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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Following his Visit to Oman and African Countries

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[Provisional Translation]

1. Opening Statement

Last year, Japan established the Japanese version of a National Security Council (NSC) and formulated the National Security Strategy. This year, under these frameworks, I will continue to promote "diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the terrestrial globe" based on strategic approaches.

The starting point for this diplomacy is here, in Africa.

The 21st century may well be the African century. This was reinforced to me during this trip.

Fifty years ago, the athlete Abebe Bikila arrived in Japan from the distant land of Africa.

He won the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first person in history to win two consecutive Olympic marathons. The persistence with which he ran towards the goal inspired many Japanese people, including myself.

Half a century has passed since then, and Africa is no longer a distant continent. At this very moment, African countries are blooming the largest potential in the world.

Indeed, Africa has changed. I saw that a variety of domains, including not only sports, but also culture and the economy, were infused with tremendous dynamism.

(Cote d'Ivoire)

On this trip, I visited Cote d'Ivoire, which was the first West African country I have ever been to. Cote d'Ivoire is truly a growing country, achieving rapid growth of nearly 10%.

At the football World Cup this summer, Japan will first face off against Cote d'Ivoire. During my visit, the leaders of eleven West African countries, including President Ouattara, all went out of their way to come together and welcome me graciously.

I would like to once again express my appreciation for their heartwarming hospitality.

The leaders are all brimming with personality. While cherishing their individual characteristics, West Africa, with a population of 300 million people, is currently working towards integration and achieving an even more robust growth.

Japan possesses technologies that can contribute to growth in this region, including towards the development and improvement of roads and ports.

Japan can also make useful contributions in improving living standards, including in food and health.

Africa presents an opportunity for major growth for Japan as well. On this trip, I have asked the heads of nearly 30 companies, universities, and other organizations to accompany me from Japan.

(Africa in which Women Shine)

Additionally, in Africa, many children today are still unable to attend schools for various reasons, including poverty. It is the truth that the rate of enrollment in school among girls is particularly low.

Japan has long extended support for teaching such girls how to read and write, and for establishing facilities of vocational training, such as sewing.

"So that each individual, one by one, can earn incomes on their own."

There are countless women who left the nest, escaped poverty, and became independent thanks to these facilities.

In a classroom, girls who were practicing sewing, using machines with Japanese flags on them, welcomed me with their brimming smiles.

Their eyes were glittering.

The sewing machines that Japan provided are indeed machines that stitch "hopes for the future" for these girls.

If women have active roles in society, there is no doubt that Africa will achieve further growth.

To build an "Africa in which women shine," Japan will continue to proactively support these efforts.


In Mozambique, I met members of the national women's basketball team who visited the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake following the disaster.

Japanese women too are working hard to educate children who are responsible for the future, through music and physical education.

Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) teach people living in rural farming communities how to harvest high quality honey, as well as methods for growing vegetables.

An aluminum plant in which a Japanese company invested has created more than 10,000 jobs in the region.

Mozambique's rich supply of resources, including natural gas and coal, presents a significant opportunity not only for Japan, but also for Mozambique itself.

They must be capitalized upon for Mozambique's sustainable growth and for improving the living standards of its people.

The environment will be protected. New industries will be created. And human resources will be developed.

Japan will make investments not merely to acquire resources, but to be a partner that looks ahead to the future in order to grow together with Africa. That is the Japanese way.


Lastly, here, Ethiopia.

"Only Japanese companies have taught us what it means to 'work' and about workplace ethics."

This is what one of the African leaders shared with me during the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Yokohama, last June.

"Kaizen," a word that was coined by a Japanese manufacturing site, is harnessed for state-building even here in Ethiopia, a country which has a history of exchanges with Japan for more than 80 years.

Here in Addis Ababa, which can be called "the capital of politics in Africa" and which is the home of the headquarters of the African Union (AU), Japan will establish a Human Resource Development Centre for Business and Industry, the first such center in the African continent.

At this Centre, we will support young people and women in Africa to fully realize their potential.

(Growing Together)

Africa, a shining continent with full of dynamic growth, is no longer a recipient of "aid."

Whether it is with human resources development or infrastructure development, the entire gamut of Japan's support is "investment" in the future.

However, I do not adopt the view that this is "investment only for Japan's sake"; namely, for the acquisition of resources and the securing of export destinations for Japanese products.

Training young people and women, increasing agricultural incomes, creating new industries, and eliciting the array of potential that lies in Africa by drawing on Japan's experiences and wisdom, are "investments for Africa and Japan to grow together."

Africa is the frontier of Japanese diplomacy.

I believe that this visit to Africa has served as a major catalyst for Japan and Africa to become "growth partners of the 21st century."


Having had the opportunity to visit Oman during this trip, I have been able to visit all six countries in the Gulf in just over eight months.

The stability of the Middle East, including the Strait of Hormuz, is in the vital interest of Japan. Japan will continue to deepen our partnerships with countries in the Middle East by promoting summit diplomacy.


When leaders talk with each other, the wheels of progress begin to turn.

This year as well, I myself will continue to fly around the world and promote strategic diplomacy.

During this trip, I received tremendous power from the passionate song and dance, the people's smiles, the serious gazes of women, and the sun that shines on the land of Africa.

That is all from me.

2. Questions and Answers

REPORTER (KUWAHARA, SANKEI SHIMBUN): I believe this visit to Africa was a step towards realizing Japanese-style African diplomacy, of supporting the self-help efforts of each individual, one by one, living in Africa. Unlike the Chinese style of pumping in massive quantities of people, goods, and money, Japanese support, such as human resources development, takes time. What steps are you thinking of to speed up the African policies you have established during this visit? Related to this, what is the specific timing and region you have in mind for your next visit to Africa? Also, bearing in mind China's maritime expansion, among other factors, I believe you appealed the concept of proactive contribution to peace. Do you think understanding was obtained with regard to the position of Japan?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Many African leaders attended TICAD V. This visit was in response to the request of Africa, expressed on that occasion, for a Japanese Prime Minister to visit Africa.

Japan's cooperation and business are of a nature which contributes to "each individual, one by one" in Africa making most of their strengths and to Africa growing through its own efforts.

Accompanied by business representatives from Japan, I met with the leaders of 13 African nations in total. During the meetings I asked for their cooperation in promoting Japanese businesses  in Africa, while the African leaders expressed high hopes for Japanese private investment in Africa. For the sake of meeting these expectations as well, we will support the business activities of Japanese corporations by faithfully implementing the support measures proposed at TICAD V.

Moreover, should further opportunities arise, I myself would like to visit Africa as much as possible.

Japan supports other nations by developing human resources, sharing Japan's knowhow, and also working hard together with our partners; thereby giving local communities a sense of ownership and helping them stand on their own two feet. Such efforts have been a huge boon to Asia.

It may take some time for us to see the effects of our efforts, but I am convinced that the people of Africa fully understand that this very method is the best for the future of Africa. As I said earlier, the fact that the leaders of 11 African nations, including Nigeria, kindly assembled to meet me in Cote d'Ivoire on such short notice, is truly a testament to this.

In the meetings with each of the leaders, I conveyed our determination to contribute more proactively than ever before to the peace and stability of the region and the world, in line with our stance of proactive contribution to peace, based on a belief in international cooperation. During the meetings, we also presented a Portuguese summary of our stance to the President of Mozambique and a French summary to the President of Cote d'Ivoire. Each of the leaders welcomed this, and expressed their support.

REPORTER (VAUGHAN, AFP): This morning, you announced that Japan intends to provide additional support for peace talks in South Sudan. What message do you have for those involved in the negotiations? What role will Japan play in initiating a ceasefire and bringing peace to South Sudan? What role will Japan fulfill in establishing peace and security throughout the African continent? Is Japan prepared to deploy its PKO units or provide funds for this cause?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: I would like us all to once again remember that on July 9, 2011, joy swept across all of South Sudan and its people came together as one, under the shared vision of building a new nation.

In order to make this vision a reality, I hope that all concerned will make sincere efforts to reach a swift agreement and iniatiate the cessation of all hostilities, and to achieve national reconciliation among ethnic groups.

Japan believes that mediation by neighboring nations such as Ethiopia is crucial, and we support these efforts. I communicated this to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn during yesterday's summit meeting.

Furthermore, Japan is determined to contribute more proactively than ever before to the peace and stability of the region and to the world, in line with our stance of proactive contribution to peace.

In light of this, Japan deployed Self-Defense Forces to UNMISS and is preparing additional financial support of approximately 25 million dollars to address the situation in South Sudan. Moreover, Japan will also contribute to ensuring the stability of Central Africa and the Sahel region.

Through these initiatives, Japan is determined to support Africa's own efforts for achieving peace and stability.

REPORTER (MATSUTANI, NHK): Today, former Prime Minister Hosokawa announced his intention to run in the Tokyo gubernatorial election under the banner of denuclearization. Furthermore, former Prime Minister Koizumi, who shares the same view, has also expressed his intention to proactively support Mr. Hosokawa's candidacy. Former Prime Minister Koizumi said that the election will be fought between two groups: those who believe that Japan is able to prosper without nuclear power, and those who believe that Japan cannot prosper without it. What are your thoughts? Additionally, Cabinet approval for Japan's Basic Energy Policy, which was set to occur sometime this month, has now been postponed. Is there any chance that this draft, which acknowledges nuclear power as a fundamentally important energy base, will be revised?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: I understand that during the press conference, Mr. Koizumi said that he will prove that Tokyo can survive without nuclear energy.

I think that it would be wonderful if Tokyo, the largest consumer of electricity, were to fully commit itself to energy conservation, raise its energy self-sufficiency, and brainstorm many potential ideas for this goal.

It is also our policy to reduce our dependence on nuclear energy as much as possible by pursuing the realization of a thoroughly energy-efficient society, and by introducing renewable energy to the greatest extent possible.

I also understand that Mr. Masuzoe expressed his determination to consider and propose solutions to change energy consumption in Tokyo through energy conservation initiatives and renewable energy. In a sense, each of them have a very encouraging vision. Energy policy is an important challenge for everyone, and the fact that people are taking the opportunity to have these discussions is a good thing.

At the same time, as the capital of Japan and a very large city besides, Tokyo faces other issues, such as the need to eliminate childcare waiting lists and to enhance welfare for the elderly. Tokyo is also preparing for the Olympics, and the city is in charge of building excitement throughout the nation for the Games. Tokyo must also become a freely accessible city for the Paralympics. Tokyo is expected to fulfill these responsibilities as the whole world looks on. Furthermore, in preparation for an earthquake directly beneath the Tokyo metropolitan area, Tokyo is required to reinforce its crisis management capacity. I hope that well-balanced discussions are held on all such issues facing Tokyo, and that the election will be a fruitful one for its residents.

Regarding the Basic Energy Policy, we are currently examining the opinions expressed in the comments submitted to us by the public.

Additionally, the ruling parties recently asked the Government to take sufficient time to carry out thorough deliberations and coordination. We will facilitate in-depth discussions, while taking into account the views of the public and the ruling parties, in order to formulate a responsible energy policy.

REPORTER (BIAZEN, ETHIOPIAN HERALD): In relation to the transfer of expertise and technology from Japanese industry, the Japanese practice of kaizen is making a tremendous contribution to increasing the productivity of Ethiopian industry. I understand that Government officials have been conducting ongoing policy dialogue in order to share Japan's experiences. To what fields do you believe the transfer of technology from Japan will expand to?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: During the summit meeting, I praised Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's vision of making Ethiopia the driving force of Africa's light industry, and told him that I would like to share Japan's experiences of economic growth.

Currently, we have been conducting industrial policy dialogue for the development of the private sector. Through this, items such as the transfer of technology through direct foreign investment are being discussed.

While taking into account these discussions, initiatives to promote kaizen by the Ethiopian KAIZEN Institute (EKI), which will be launched as a human resource development center for business and industry, will form a core part of our efforts to enhance practical training that meets the needs of Ethiopian industry.

Furthermore, through the African Business Education Initiative for Youth(ABE Initiative), we will also pass on the experience and knowhow of Japanese businesses, which value the transfer of technology to each individual, one by one.

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