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Africa, Global South Focus of Top Japanese Leaders' Travel Over Golden Week

FM Yoko Kamikawa visited 6 nations including Africa and other Global South countries during Golden Week to strengthen collaboration on FOIP and the rule of law.



Foreign Minister Kamikawa (left) and Madagascar President Rajoelina meet on April 28 in Madagascar. (provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, as well as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, embarked on diplomatic journeys commencing May 1. Kamikawa's trip encompassed visits to six nations across Africa, Europe, and Southwest Asia. She sought to reaffirm the significance of the rule of law while fostering collaboration with increasingly influential Global South nations. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kishida traveled to France, Brazil, and Paraguay. Their trips also bolstered Japan's presence in the international community.

"I aim to integrate the dynamism of the African economy into Japan and work together to devise strategies for fostering economic growth, peace, and stability in Africa," stated Minister Kamikawa during an online press conference on April 30 (JST). 

This followed her historic visit to Nigeria, marking the first by a Japanese Foreign Minister in 45 years. During her visit, she engaged in discussions with Nigerian Foreign Minister Yusuf Maitama Tuggar.

Minister Kamikawa's visits to Sub-Saharan African countries are a first since assuming office as Foreign Minister in September last year. At the same time, they are all a vital part of the Global South. 

Foreign Minister Kamikawa poses for a photo with Nigeria's Foreign Minister Yusuf Maitama Tugar on April 30 in Abuja. (provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Returning to Africa

Preceding these engagements, Minister Kamikawa made history on April 28 by becoming the first Japanese Foreign Minister to visit the Republic of Madagascar. That country is located off the southeastern coast of the African continent. 

On April 29, she made a historic return to the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa. Her visit there, too, marked the first visit of Japan's Foreign Minister in 45 years.

Nigeria, boasting a population of 220 million and substantial economic prowess, stands as Africa's most populous nation. The country is particularly rich in natural resources like crude oil and natural gas. Forecasts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs project Nigeria's population to exceed 400 million by 2050. That ranks it as potentially the world's fifth-largest economy. 

Minister Kamikawa underscored the importance of "pioneering a new frontier in economic diplomacy." She focused on strengthening economic ties with Nigeria, a country brimming with potential, alongside the rapidly growing Ivory Coast.

On April 29, Foreign Minister Kamikawa paid a courtesy visit to HE Alassane Quattare, President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire. (Courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

In Madagascar

Madagascar, strategically positioned along key sea routes linking Europe and Asia, holds strategic importance as a transit hub. For Japan, it is also an important source of nickel imports. During her visit, Minister Kamikawa met with Madagascar Foreign Minister Rafaravavitafika Rasata

She also paid a courtesy visit to Madagascar President Andry Nirina Rajoelina. Together, they shared the significance of maintaining "a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law," including maritime security for the concrete implementation of Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). 

With her Madagascar counterpart, she also pledged cooperation in preparation for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Known as TICAD, a ministerial meeting including the African representatives Minister Kamikawa visited on her trip is scheduled for August.

Foreign Minister Kamikawa attends the OECD Ministerial Council meeting on May 2, 2024 in Paris. (@Kyodo)

Collaboration with Global South Countries 'Of Utmost Importance'

Kamikawa's trip comes in the wake of the upheaval caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's increasingly assertive actions. In this context, she further underscored the criticality of collaboration with Global South countries, saying: "It is of utmost importance in preserving and reinforcing a free and open international order founded on the rule of law."

On May 2, Minister Kamikawa met with the Prime Minister in Paris, where the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting was held. There, she chaired multiple sessions of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting until May 3. She also participated in the Japan-France Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Foreign Minister Kamikawa meets with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabri (right) on May 4 in Colombo. (Photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Kyodo)

On May 4, Kamikawa also visited Sri Lanka, a strategic hub in the Indian Ocean and a member of the Global South. Meeting with her counterpart there, she used that opportunity to reaffirm cooperation toward realizing the FOIP agenda. Finally, for her last stop, she visit Nepal on May 5 and return home on May 6.

Foreign Minister Kamikawa (far right) and Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shrestha (far left) meet in Kathmandu on May 5. (Photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Kyodo)


(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun