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Japan Vies for Supremacy in Africa Against Bitter Rival China

Abe with Mozambique President Armando Guebuza

Abe with Mozambique President Armando Guebuza

Japan is aggressively stepping onto the African continent to snatch influence and resources away from its bitter rival China, which for years has been successfully battling the United States and Europe in gaining access to Africa’s riches.

China has been intensely involved in the African continent for decades and is reportedly the largest or second-largest trading partner for half of the more than 50 countries in Africa. The Chinese government sees Africa as a source of raw materials and a market for finished goods—in fact, in 2012, China’s trade with Africa surpassed $200 billion.

But on a trip to sub-Saharan Africa, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that Japan is no longer willing to accede Africa to the Chinese. He began his trip in the Ivory Coast, the first visit to sub-Saharan Africa by a Japanese prime minister in eight years.

During a five-day African tour, Abe is pledging more than $14-billion in trade and foreign aid agreements. But in addition to the money, it was his language that raised many eyebrows, particularly in China.

Abe said “job creation and technology transfers” differentiate Japan’s efforts in Africa from those of China, Europe and the United States.

“The benefits of rich resources should be used to create sustained growth and a better life for citizens, and Japanese corporate investment will transfer technology to local hands and create jobs,” Abe said at an investment forum in Mozambique.

In an interview with the BBC, Abe’s spokesman, Tomohiko Taniguchi, criticized Beijing for building lavish headquarters and office towers as donations to African politicians, such as the new $200-million headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, where Abe gave a policy speech.

“Countries like Japan … cannot provide African leaders with beautiful houses or beautiful ministerial buildings,” he said. Japan, he said, prefers to “aid the human capital of Africa.”

But those sounded like fighting words to the Chinese. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China’s programs in Africa include developing livelihoods and maintaining regional peace.

“China’s aid — not only giving a fish, but teaching how to fish — helps improve the self-development of African people,” Hong said at a daily news conference. “Moreover, China always abides by its promises.”

Since 1963, Hong said, China has sent more than 18,000 medical personnel to 48 African countries, treating more than 200 million people.

“In terms of cooperation in natural resources, China purchases energy from Africa at fair prices while helping enhance the continent’s pricing power in the global market,” he said.

And while Abe pledged to increase aid and investment, including an aid package of $320 million to the continent and assistance worth $25 million to South Sudan, Hong was dismissive.

“Japan claims to boost employment in Africa, but how do you do that if there is no industry to support?” Hong said. “We will wait to see how far the aid programs Abe promised will go.”

Another spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, issued this warning to Japan: “If there is any country out there that attempts to make use of Africa for rivalry, the country is making a wrong decision, which is doomed to fail,” she told a press conference.

Former  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a visit to Africa in 2012 made no secret about the U.S. desire to beef up its presence in Africa as a business partner—particularly since Africa is home to seven of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies.

Two years ago, Walmart finalized a deal worth more than $2 billion to acquire 51 percent of South Africa’s leading retailer, MassMart, while G.E. signed a deal with the Nigerian government to work together on infrastructure and power projects. In South Africa alone, there are 600 American companies that have invested.

As for Japan, China’s investment in Africa was reported to be about seven times that of Japan in 2011, and its exports to Africa were about five times greater. In addition, Beijing has cultivated close relationships with Africa’s ruling parties, and frequently brings African officials to China on junkets.

In contrast, last year Japan promised up to $32-billion in public and private assistance to Africa over the next five years—confirming its reputation as a donor, rather than a business partner.

“There is this newfangled, unprecedented interest in Africa,” Chris Landsberg, a foreign affairs analyst at the University of Johannesburg, said to the New York Times. “Every single important country — whether China, France, Britain, India, Brazil, Turkey, you name it — they are all queuing up.”

“The United States has been present in Africa probably longer than the Chinese,” said Francisco J. Sanchez, an under secretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, who accompanied Clinton when she went to South Africa. “I am not going to try to guess whether we are behind, or right up even, or whether we are ahead. What I do know is that we need to be present now.”

What people are saying

15 thoughts on “Japan Vies for Supremacy in Africa Against Bitter Rival China

  1. Omar Goodin says:

    China is selfish

  2. The Europeans and the Americans took their turns exploiting the Africans of their resources and land. I the wake of the riches they exploited, they left poverty, disorder and chaos. and famine. Maybe the wisdom of the Orient, the patience of the Chinese, the efficiency of the Japanese in consort with advances in technology will lead to a better more prosperous Africa.

  3. i am so sorry to say but i thinks Africans are not intelligent people and that why those six ether people from those countries can do the resources grading and exploiting over and over again to them and think they are brain less it sad very sad

  4. John Forgenie, Yeah! Not surprised and they still live in trees!!. Just get your self educated on Africa. Just wondering how far better is your part of the world??

  5. They see an Africa without Africans in the way.

  6. Theresa 'Tammie' Parrott says:

    Until Black people around the world understand how the racist global monetary system works, know the history of Ancient Egytian and African history, intergrate not assimulate which will enable us to decide what OUR morals, values and interest are, stop glorifying religions our ancestors were indoctrinated into and most of all NATIONALISE THEIR NATURAL RESOURCES and demand the people of their countries are educated, trained on the work the foreigners are coming to do, things will remain the same. Black people better understand, history repeats itself.

    Black people in America has more freedom than any other black people in the world. We don't use our voice, don't vote, If we raise our voices not only would it inspire other blacks around the world, but also white people who see this global system for what it is, corrupt!

    One more thing, just because one is black, don't mean they have your back! Remember, there were some African tribes that sold other Africans into slavery.

  7. Theresa 'Tammie' Parrott says:

    I would say they are not intelligent. It's more like the leaders receive Anglos education, shun their own history to assimulate into western culture. They become leaders of uneducated people and are able to manipulate them in the name of money. The leaders get rich and the masses of people remain poor. The same can be said of blacks in America.

    I think the blacks in a lot of the Caribbean are getting it right, they are not falling into the western trap.

    If Black people around the world start to mobilse, talk and plan together, we would have more control over our own destiny.

  8. Theresa 'Tammie' Parrott says:

    I meant to say, I wouldn't say they are not intelligent.

  9. Says the house slave, just get yourself educated on Africa you ignoramus.

  10. No wonder the sudden White American film executives interest in Africans of Europe and Africa playing Africans of America in the slave trade. Grab their attention and make nice by lavishing covet media attention in the global press in order to curry favor among Africans who are negatively influenced by the sickness of the media machine that does the job of either influencing towards or against or even entirely away from whatever issue they wish to harness. I'll bet a lot of Africans are just oh so proud to see Africans playing the Americans many despise. It's not about their great acting abilities. It's all about mistaking media attention and compliments in order to get to the gold, diamonds, oil, land, etc. and the fact that the Asians have beaten them.
    The sudden rise of African actors and the American's race against China in Africa is not a mere coincidence. These Whites in power here know they're outnumbered by literally 2 billion Africans and people of African descent. While we talk of celebrities who are also used by media to distract and pacify us, the major universities are busy learning a multitude of African languages.
    The Japanese will have to explain their love of sambo images time and again and why they locked up the chemical composition of the kenakalon fiber and tokykalon fibers that sisters wearing braids often used purchasing to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars. It's not just us who use this. White women's wigs (cancer side effects) and doll baby hair is made of this fiber also.
    Make no mistake. The last thing any of these outsiders wants to hear of is Africans of the entire diaspora getting together and becoming truly united. Our combined experiences with many of these groups coming from our associations in EVERY continent combined with our global numbers could upset the apple cart of global imperialists. Imperialism is imperialism and the world is tired now.
    To end this madness and encourage the hidden power to commit massive communal suicide, we need to get hold of what would make cars run without gasoline, what would make the chemical junk sit on the shelves of wal-mart, this, that and the other "mart" or big box store and taking control of growing a lot of our own food. We have the ability to break their hold and break them, make them sit down and freeze to death back in Europe or go some place else. Enough is enough already.
    The technology has been there to not be dependent on oil, electricity or precious metals for circuitry boards. These nuts in suits get off on the power. They have the money already. A good portion of the things we buy makes profits that are used to fuel political agendas that work against us. Stop buying, make things like soap, etc. and barter. Deny these nuts money. Don't buy their cars from Japan if they could have the nerve to say they refuse to advertise in Black media, yet now they want Africa's minerals and to make nice with the people? Do a DNA check, we are the same people. Africans, do you really want to be overrun by people who come from such a torn up polluted environment?

  11. Theresa 'Tammie' Parrott You guys exhibit a very high level of ignorance, its sad you use it to comment on a Continent you hardly know. And this normally comes from Blacks in the Caribbean. Just visit!

  12. Khalil Malik says:

    Start by cleaning up their own house first.

  13. Ruth Ware says:

    Every European country in the world seems like they want a part of Africa's resources. I like how Deborah Martin hinted on this point "If they have to plot and scheme to get it all they will." In fact she makes some valuable points on her whole comment below. We don't hear of African's going into other countries and trying to scheme and take what they have. You don't hear of African's going into other countries setting up military bases either.

  14. Datu Kevz Nwede says:

    china, korea and japan are going to rape africa of its resources, poison the land and then evict all africans from the land

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