JSAS Regional Workshop 2

Japan in Africa Beyond TICAD 7: Defining the Place of African Diaspora in Japan in African Development 

 

Panel

Kinyua L Kithinji, Hosei University, Moderator

Sena/Pele Voncujovi, Jaspora, Moderator

Inaba Masaki, Africa Japan Forum, Discussant

Emmanuel Mutisya, Africa Development Bank, Discussant

Yoshifumi Okamura, MOFA, Discussant

Yoko Ishii, University of Sacred Heart, Discussant

Kazuyo Hanai, JSAS, Discussant

 

Date: 4 December, 2019 (Wednesday)

Venue:  Hosei University, Ichigaya campus.

Time: 1630 – 1930.  

 

Concept

TICAD 7 was concluded successfully on 30th August 2019 with a declaration, as the tradition holds. While various commitments made by Japan to Africa are not new from previous ones, the Prime Minister expressed his desire to foster strong cords between Japan and the vast continent by pledging $20 billion through the private sector in the next three years.

The framework for Japan’s investment to African in the next three years is partnerships that promote technology, investment, climate change adaptation, and industrialization. In approaching these issues, Tokyo seems to be veering away from the conventional aid focused approaches towards embracing a commercial engagement that emphasizes the agency of the Africans in the development agenda. Thus, one of the strongest messages emerging from TICAD 7 was the need to somewhat differentiate Japan’s approach towards Africa through stronger cooperation and provision of quality infrastructural investment.

 

Some of the specific goals proceeding from TICAD 7 were; a) fostering a free and an open Indo-Pacific initiative, b) helping African countries manage public debt through a proposed provision of fiscal expertise, c) furtherance of business training through human resource that was initiated in TICAD V through continuance of the Africa Business Education (ABE) Initiative program targeting a further 3,000 personnel, d) addressing environmental issues through such activities as plastic and waste management, e) cultivating a new approach towards peace and stability, among others.

An often-underestimated issue in the TICAD process is the manner in which development goals and commitment are followed up and implemented leading to a vacuum and abstractness in terms of measuring the yields of such commitments. In this respect, this workshop proposes to explore the potential of the African diaspora in Japan as providers of resources and skills in African development.

 

Given Africa’s youthful and growing population, the vast adaptation of technology, an improved infrastructure, and the great strands in education, it is becoming imperative for Japan to think of new ways to engage with the continent. Some of the steps taken by Japan have been encouraging start-up companies by Japanese entrepreneurs to penetrate Africa. Japan has also set up mechanisms to support medium sized enterprises. If Japan is to realize the people focused development as proposed in the TICAD 7 framework, it is imperative that Japan harnesses the research and knowledge capabilities of the African diaspora.

 

African diaspora all over the world is becoming an important resource and reservoir of knowledge and skills that are being taped to develop the continent. In the context of Japan, two key questions regarding African diaspora emerge as critical in the endeavor to tap into the diaspora potential. One, what constitutes the African diaspora? And two, what mechanisms are necessary  to change the African diaspora in Japan from mere “remitters” to the transferrers of resources to their home countries?

 

The question in regard to what constitutes the African diaspora in Japan expounds the complicated spaces of African migrants in Japan, a country whose migration policies seems to be becoming important in regard to dwindling and aging population. While defining the African diaspora constituent, it becomes visible to construct the relationship between Japan and African migrants towards Japanese challenges. The discussion on the mechanisms of engaging the African diaspora in Japan towards African development agenda led by Japan seeks to emphasize the role of the African diaspora in strengthening, channeling, and re-imagining Japan’s development path in contemporary Africa.

 

In this regard, the proposed workshop aims to bring together scholars, practitioners, and the civil society to explore ideas and practices of Japan’s engagement with Africa in post TICAD 7. In particular, it aims to evaluate the deliberations of TICAD 7 with a focus on discussing the context for effective implementation strategies aiming at exploring the involvement of the African diaspora constituency in Japan. We will deliberate on Japan’s engagement with the contemporary Africa development agenda within the global context. In this regard, speakers will give insights on how TICAD 7 outcomes and objectives can be successfully implemented in the view of the growing importance of the diaspora in shaping the future of the Africa continent.

© 2019 Japan Society for Afrasian Studies