Japan bolsters diplomacy to woo ‘Global South’

PM Fumio Kishida will leave next week on the first multicountry trip to Africa by a Japanese leader since 2014.

The Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima is just a month away and in a bid to compete against China and Russia for influence in Africa, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is all set to embark on a multi-country trip, reported Nikkei Asia.

PM Kishida will leave next week on the first multicountry trip to Africa by a Japanese leader since 2014. His four stops – Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique – are all part of the Global South, a loosely defined collection of over 100 developing nations. The valuable natural resources acquired by many Global South countries, and their general diplomatic aversion to the United States, have brought overtures from Russia and China to Tokyo’s alarm.

Kishida has told his aides that Chinese President Xi Jinping and senior Chinese officials “have been going all over Africa and Latin America,” adding, “At this rate, we’ll lose to them,” as per Nikkei Asia.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang made a visit to Egypt in January, a month after Xi met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Saudi Arabia.

Last year alone Kenya’s trade with China spiked 27 per cent, and polling there shows positive views of Beijing soaring to 82 per cent from 58 per cent in 2021.

According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, In Mozambique, a resource-abundant place, a Chinese-backed liquefied natural gas project began production in November. And Ghana’s finance minister paid a visit to China last month to discuss debt restructuring after its default in December, read a report published in Nikkei Asia.

Support from the Global South will be crucial to the G7’s efforts to isolate China and Russia.

G7 foreign ministers, in a statement after their meeting this week, stressed reinforcing an “international order based on the rule of law,” calling out Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s negligence of international law in the East and South China seas.

But what G7 lacks is the economic dominance it once had. Members that accounted for more than 60 per cent of the global gross domestic product from the 1970s to the 1990s now have shares of less than 50 per cent.

Tokyo’s new outreach efforts go beyond Africa. Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s Foreign Minister, is planning a trip to Latin America later this month.

Peru and Chile are both members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement to which China has applied. Hayashi is expected to argue that new members must adhere to the CPTPP’s high degree of trade liberalisation, according to Nikkei Asia.

Japan seeks to strengthen ties with the Global South by providing finance, training, and other assistance to nations dealing with high energy costs, food shortages, and climate change, while also conveying Tokyo’s positions on the Ukraine crisis and the geopolitical situation in East Asia.

Japan announced plans last month to provide development assistance based on the needs of recipients, Nikkei Asia reported. (ANI)


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