The Irrelevance of Japan in Africa
Japan is one of the latest economic powers to make it loud and clear that it wants to compete for influence in the Middle East and Africa . But can its leaders build strong economic ties that would compete with those of China? Today’s situation suggests that the Japanese climb will be steep and difficult. Just in Africa alone, the Japanese economic presence is about one third of that of China and further dropping given the fast expansion of China there.
But that does not stop the Japanese from trying, even if perhaps most of what the politicians and some business people say publically remain a matter of theory. In a visit to Algiers this December, the Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said his country wished to contribute to the economic development of Algeria.
Not hiding his country's interest in energy and natural resources, the young foreign minister was quoted saying "Japan is interested in the fact that Algeria has significant energy resources and a large internal market (...) and wishes to contribute to economic development in Algeria." The Japanese charm offensive of sort is the first in years. In fact, Maehara's visit was the first by a Japanese Foreign Minister to Algeria since the independence of that country in 1962. Should Algiers take the diplomats words seriously or is this just diplomat language that may translate to nothing? Continue here or subscriber here