Kishida Africa visit: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is preparing for his upcoming African adventure. As global powers vie for influence in Africa, Japan has also joined the effort to engage with the continent. Kishida will travel to Africa at the end of April to, among other things, challenge Chinese and Russian influence in the Global South prior to the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May of this year.
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Kishida set to travel to Africa
As per the report, Kishida plans to visit Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique during Japan’s upcoming Golden Week holidays. Apparently, Kishida’s trip is part of Japan’s efforts to strengthen relations and affirm its “cooperation for peace and stability in the region,” as confirmed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno. This trip is also significant because no Japanese prime minister has visited an African country since 2016, and the last trip spanning multiple countries on the continent was in January 2014. As the geopolitical landscape undergoes drastic changes, particularly in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Japan aims to build closer cooperation with the Global South.
Kishida shared with his fellow officials from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, “As the G-7 chair, we will listen to and increase our involvement with the Global South. Kishida’s focus on the Global South is a deviation from Japan’s typical interest in trips to the West prior to hosting G-7 leaders. In the past, Japanese leaders have prioritized trips to the U.S. and Europe. For example, Yasuo Fukuda visited Germany, the U.K., and Italy in 2008 before the Group of Eight summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, and Shinzo Abe visited Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, the U.K., and Russia in 2016 before the G-7 summit in Ise-Shima.
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Nevertheless, Kishida is confident in his vision and believes it is crucial to win over the Global South as he positions Japan for a leading role in rebuilding the international order after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Six of the eight countries invited to the outreach meeting of the Hiroshima summit, including India and Brazil, are part of the Global South. Furthermore, the outreach will cover issues such as the Ukraine war and China’s military presence in the Indo-Pacific. Kishida visit to Africa comes at a time when China and Russia are increasing their involvement on the continent.
It is unlikely that Kishida’s trip to Africa alone will be enough to counter China and Russia’s growing influence on the continent. Both China and Russia have been investing heavily in African countries, particularly in infrastructure projects, and have established strong diplomatic ties. Japan will need to invest more resources and engage in sustained efforts to develop closer relationships with African countries to effectively compete with China and Russia’s influence. However, Kishida’s trip is a significant step in this direction and demonstrates Japan’s renewed focus on the Global South.
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