Japan in Africa: From donor to business partner and the push to counter Chinese influence

Photo courtesy of www.finalcall.com
Photo courtesy of www.finalcall.com

By Greg Ryan

Japan’s engagement with Africa, particularly its development paradigm, is changing. If China’s influence can be countered in a manner that fosters African development rather than the political gain of Japan over China, Japan’s recent move from donor to business partner may prove to be one of the defining strategies to facilitate Africa’s growth into a global economic hub.

Africa is becoming a global engine of growth and a hugely important region for natural resources, trade and human capital. This is becoming increasingly apparent to the world’s major powers. Japan is no exception. Although strained by two decades of economic stagnation, it is the third largest economy in the world and is largely dependent on imports from abroad, particularly rare earths such as copper and cobalt, and on foreign markets for exporting industrial and consumer goods.(2) Resource-poor Japan has become increasingly dependent on oil and gas following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 which led to the shutting down of almost all the nuclear reactors in the country (3) and this is a huge concern for the Japanese elite.