DIPLOMACY

Japanese Foreign Affairs minister concludes African tour in Kenya

Motegi to hold talks with Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In Summary

• The visit aims at enhancing ties and cooperation of the two countries in Japan’s key foreign strategy - Free and Open Indo-Pacific, TICAD 8 and mutual global interests.

• The Foreign minister has so far visited six African countries in two months and will arrive in Nairobi from Dakar.  

Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu
Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu
Image: COURTESY

Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu will on Tuesday arrive in Kenya for a two-day visit to bolster the countries' relations.

The visit will mark the end of Motegi's tour of Africa that began last month.

In a press statement, the Japanese embassy on Friday said the visit aims at enhancing diplomatic ties and cooperation of the two countries.

The countries will discuss Japan’s key foreign strategy — Free and Open Indo-Pacific, the Tokyo International Conference of African Development 8 — and mutual global interests. TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia next year. Kenya is now a UNSC non-permanent member for 2021-22 period. 

TICAD was launched in 1993 by Japan to promote Africa's development, peace and security through the strengthening of multilateral cooperation and partnerships.

The Foreign Minister has so far visited six African countries in two months and will arrive in Nairobi from Dakar.  

“This will be my second visit to Africa as a Japanese Foreign Minister since the global spread of the novel coronavirus. Together with strengthening bilateral relations with all of the countries and confirming cooperation on the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, I will promote diplomacy with both tolerance and strength,” Motegi said when he announced his Africa visit in January.

In his first visit in December last year, he toured Tunisia, Mozambique, South Africa and Mauritius.

He said he would promote cooperation with the various countries regarding development towards TICAD 8, business relations and regional peace and stability based on the results of his first visit to Africa.

Upon arrival on Tuesday, Minister Motegi is expected to hold talks with his Kenyan counterpart Raychelle Omamo on Wednesday morning. He will later proceed to State House, Nairobi, for talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In the afternoon, the minister will meet Sports and Culture CS Amina Mohamed before departing that evening. While the meeting will centre on Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Amina is highly regarded by the Japanese government. She was honoured by Emperor Akihito in 2017 with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, the highest honour conferred on foreign nationals.

Japan and Kenya have enjoyed close ties, especially during the tenure of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

For instance, Kenya secured financial support for key infrastructure projects from Japan including several roads such as Ngong Road, renewable energy projects, water and the ongoing Special Economic Zone in Dongo Kundu in Mombasa county, among other developments.

CHINA-JAPAN RIVALRY? 

Motegi’s visit to Africa coincides with that of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's. Wang wrapped up his five-nation diplomatic tour of Africa with a one-day visit to Seychelles on January 9.

Minister Wang started his visit in Africa on Monday, shuttling through the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles.

Since 1991, Chinese foreign ministers have chosen Africa for their first overseas visit.

"China and Africa's friendship had withstood the pandemic and risen to a new height in 2020. The Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19 jointly held by President Xi Jinping and the African leaders (in June) has set the example for global anti-epidemic cooperation. 2020 marked the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, " Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in an earlier statement.

Top on China's agenda in Africa are economic recovery, co-building the Belt and Road Initiative and joint efforts in fighting Covid-19.