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This webinar is over. We had very lively discussions with more than 110 online participants. The JSAS will make an announcement of subsequent events on this website!


A Perspective from Japan and South Africa

Conference Date: July 4, Saturday, 2020
Start Time: 11:00 am (South Africa) = 6:00 pm (Japan)​
Conference Venue: Online (via Zoom conferencing)

Click here to Register

WEBINAR presented jointly by the Centre for Japanese Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa, and the Japan Society for Afrasian Studies (JSAS) in collaboration with the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, and the Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo


The COVID-19 global pandemic has had a severe impact on all aspects of society, changing daily life, limiting local transport and international mobility, disrupting work and the functioning of the economy and exacerbating poverty and social inequality. Many believe that the COVID-19 recession is probably the deepest since the Second World War and has affected most countries since the long depression of the 1870s. Despite this consensus, cooperative responses at the global level have been weak, while the domestic response in the industrialized world has been timely and substantial. Examples include the European Union with the European Solidarity and Japan, which has somewhat succeeded in containing the pandemic without massive lockdown or mass testing like in China and South Korea. There is thus increasing concern that the impact of the COVID-19 will be more significant than anticipated in developing countries, especially in Africa, because of the low capacity to tackle both health and economic crisis. Most of the African countries are still fighting the first wave of virus, and at the time of this writing, there has been a rapid rise in the daily number of confirmed cases while the number of tests to cases is low. The pressure to reopen the economies to limit the economic damage could spark the second wave of the virus, as it is ongoing in China. As the crisis unfolds, it is crucial to take stock of current challenges and responses and to reflect on new directions for global development post-COVID-19.


On Saturday, July 4, the Center for Japanese Studies (CJS) at the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Japan Society for Afrasian Studies will host a webinar discussing how ongoing initiatives can help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, either in the immediate coping phase or when economies start to recover. The event is supported by the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, and the Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo.


The event will feature framing remarks by Vick Ssali, President of the Japan Society for Afrasian Studies and lecturer at Aichi Gakuin University, followed by a panel discussion.


Panel discussants include Christian Otchia of Nagoya University, Scarlett Cornelissen of the University of Stellenbosch, Ayako Takemi of the University of Tokyo, Sithembile Mbete of the University of Pretoria, and Masaki Inaba of the Africa Japan Forum. The discussion will be moderated by Rangarirai Muchetu of Doshisha University.


Conference Date: July 4, Saturday, 2020 

Conference Venue: Zoom.

Registration required:

Inquiries: Inquiries about this online event should be directed to:

Christian Otchia, Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University




11:00 (SAST), 18:00 (JST): Framing remarks

Vick Ssali

President, Japan Society for Afrasian Studies; Lecturer, Aichi Gakuin University


11:10 (SAST), 18:10 (JST): Roundtable discussion

Christian Otchia

Associate Professor, Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University


Scarlett Cornelissen

Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Stellenbosch


Ayako Takemi

Project Member, Institute for Future Initiatives, the University of Tokyo


Sithembile Mbete

Lecturer, Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria


Masaki Inaba

Director of Global Health Programme, Africa Japan Forum


12:00 (SAST), 19:00 (JST): Q&A session

Concluding remarks:

Keiko Arai, the Centre for Japanese Studies, University of Pretoria



Moderator: Dr. Rangarirai Gavin Muchetu

Research Fellow, Graduate School of Global Studies, Doshisha University


Christian OTCHIA is an associate professor of Development Economics at the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University, Japan, where he teaches Development Microeconomics and Industrial Development. He has a wide practical experience in industrial policy design and implementation, having worked with various local and national governments (Burkina Faso, DRC, Chad, Cameroon) and international organizations (FAO, UNCTAD, UNECA, African Union). He has received many awards for his work on industrial policy analysis in Africa and has published in several academic journals. He holds a Ph.D. in International Development (Nagoya University, Japan). 










Scarlett Cornelissen is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where she lectures Foreign Policy, Global Governance and Asia-Africa Relations. She is a current co-editor of Geopolitics and past co-editor of the Review of International Studies. She has held fellowships at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, IDE-JETRO, and Kansai and Kyoto University. Her most recent books include Migration and Agency in a Globalizing World: Afro-Asian Encounters (2018, co-edited with Yoichi Mine) and Handbook on Africa-Asia Relations (2018, co-edited with Miguel Amakasu Raposo de Medeiros Carvalho and David Arase).


Ayako Takemi earned a Ph.D. in law, with a specialization in global health governance, from the University of Tokyo in 2017, along with an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, and LLB, LLM from the University of Tokyo. While pursuing her doctorate, Ayako served as an adjunct lecturer at Aoyama Gakuin University, and an intern for the World Health Organization and the Hague Conference for Private International Law. After graduation, she worked for the Center for Global Development and the World Bank, focusing on the pandemic preparedness and health financing system. She is now working for a global strategic consulting firm, where she has dedicated herself to helping and advising new businesses in their development. 


Sithembile Mbete is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria where she teaches international relations and South African politics and an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Governance Innovation. She is also a visiting researcher at the African Leadership Centre at King’s College London. She has a doctorate from the University of Pretoria on the subject of South Africa’s foreign policy during its two elected terms in the United Nations Security Council (2007-2008 and 2011-2012). Sithembile has published in accredited academic journals. Her research has been funded by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Science (NIHSS), National Research Foundation (NRF), the American Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Mellon Foundation. She is a 2019 Open Society Foundation Democracy Fellow for research on the South African electoral system. She comments frequently in the media on a range of issues in South African politics.

Masaki Inaba is Director of Global Health Programme, Africa Japan Forum (AJF); Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs; and Advisor, Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (FGFJ). In the 1990s, he engaged in social activism in Kotobuki-cho, a town of day laborers in Yokohama, and started to fight for the human rights of LGBT people. Since 2002, he has campaigned as a leading Japanese civil society activist to address HIV/AIDS and other critical issues Africa faces today.

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