Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 January 30 - February 5  > Japan should do more to help relieve poverty-stricken Africa
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2008 January 30 - February 5 [WORLD]

Japan should do more to help relieve poverty-stricken Africa

February 4, 2008
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, co-hosted by the Japanese government and the United Nations, will be held in May in Yokohama City.

It will focus on what should be done to reduce poverty in Africa, which embraces 53 countries, in particular, 34 out of 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa that are in critical condition. These are countries that the World Bank recognizes as the world’s poorest.

The Japanese government is called upon to play its part to help relieve poverty in Africa.

The World Bank’s “World Development Indicators 2007” published in April last year showed that in 2004, 26 billion people, or 40 percent of the world’s population of 62 billion, are living on less than 2 dollars a day.

The situation in Sub-Saharan Africa is serious. In this area, the number of poor people living on less than two dollars a day has been increasing, and about 298 million people are living on less than one dollar a day.

The urgent task is for the international community to redouble its effort to reduce poverty based on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the U.N. Assembly in 2000.

At the Asian-African Summit Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2005, Japan pledged to double the amount of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa from the 2003 level by 2007. But, the Sub-Saharan portion of ODA to Africa has been declining.

In 2003, Japan spent 530 million dollars to assist Africa that included 450 million dollars to the 34 Sub-Saharan African countries. Although Japan extended ODA worth 2.56 billion dollars in 2006, four times the amount for 2004, its assistance to 34 nations was only 680 million dollars, no more than a 50 percent increase from the 2003 level.

The reason for the relative decline in the amount of Japan’s assistance to the 34 Sub-Saharan African countries is that assistance to Nigeria, which is not a low-income country, reached 1.63 billion dollars, or almost 60 percent of ODA to Africa.

Every African country needs Japan’s ODA, but the figure for Nigeria is unusually high. It is natural that the international community should suspect that Japan is extending its ODA to Nigeria with the aim of securing access to the African nation’s crude oil.

In April 2007, the Japanese government Overseas Economic Cooperation Council at its 8th session confirmed that Japan’s assistance to Africa takes on three important aspects: contribution to resolving various problems, including poverty and conflicts; the effort to increase Japan’s diplomatic foundation with the aim of winning African support for Japan’s permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council; and recognition of the region rich in natural resources.

Japan’s ODA policy is basically directed at complementing the U.S. global policy and helping large corporations to gain profits. It is difficult for Japan to relieve poverty-stricken Africa without moving away from its present policy.

Japan must change its ODA policy to one of focusing on humanitarian needs, including the relief of people in poverty. It is wrong to give priority to securing natural resources in the national interest.
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved