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Rivalry: Japan, China & the Scramble for Africa January 14, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Aid to Africa, Colonizing Structure, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Land Grabs in Africa, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Nation, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Theory of Development, Tyranny, Uncategorized.
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???????????Real inspiration, Abebe Bikila

 

Abe (Japanese PM) recalls Abe (the legend Oromo Olympian, Abebe Bikila)

 

Japanese premier, Mr. Abe,  received a gift from the son of the late Oromo barefoot marathon legend Abebe Bikila, winner of the Tokyo Olympic marathon 50 years ago.

Japan’s rivalry with China is going global. After years of jousting over obscure islands in the East China Sea and competing for Asian influence, the two countries are now battling for power in a new arena: Africa.

It’s a region that Tokyo has long ceded to the Chinese, allowing Beijing to pile up massive economic and political capital across Africa. But on Friday, in a major shift in strategy, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Ivory Coast to begin his first tour of sub-Saharan Africa – and the first by any Japanese prime minister in eight years.
As he has finished a three-nation tour of Africa on Monday in which he offered aid and development projects potentially worth billions of dollars to help his nation catch up with China’s enormous footprint on the continent, the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has said he wants to expand Japan’s presence in Africa, and tap a region that can serve as both a source of minerals and energy for Japan’s industrial economy and a new market for Japanese goods.

Mr. Abe has made Africa one of the centerpieces of a diplomatic push to complement his domestic growth policies, known as Abenomics, which aim to end Japan’s long economic decline.

By placing more emphasis on Africa, Mr. Abe is throwing Japan into a scramble for resources there that also involves companies from China, the United States and other Western countries. Japan is particularly keen to find new sources of so-called rare earths and metals, raw material used in electronics and cellphones that it currently imports mostly from China.

But Japan also finds itself lagging far behind its rival China, which has been investing heavily in Africa for a decade. As if to underscore that great rivalry, at the same time that Mr. Abe was in Africa, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, was on a four-nation visit to the region. Japan will find it difficult to catch up to China’s political influence here. China’s leaders are frequent visitors to the continent. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Africa last year on his first overseas trip as President. Beijing has cultivated close relationships with Africa’s ruling parties, routinely inviting their officials on junkets to China.

China’s state media were quick to portray Mr. Abe’s visit as an attempt to challenge Beijing in the African arena. Quoting several Japanese sources, state-owned China Daily said the Japanese leader is seeking to “contain” China’s influence in Africa.

Another Chinese newspaper, Global Times, quoted Japan analyst Geng Xin as saying that Tokyo was “cozying up” to Africa to try to dispel Japan’s image as an “economic giant and political dwarf.” He said Japan is wooing the votes of African countries for its bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, issued a veiled warning to Japan. “If there is any country out there that attempts to make use of Africa for rivalry, the country is making a wrong decision, which is doomed to fail,” she told a press conference this week.

Japanese officials have said that while they cannot match the $75 billion indevelopment aid that China has poured into Africa since 2000, they hope to close the gap in other ways. One is to use Japanese aid to train African engineers and technicians, in order to differentiate Japanese efforts from Chinese projects that have been criticized for employing mainly Chinese workers while offering few jobs to Africans. Japan, he said, prefers to “aid the human capital of Africa.”

The visit also brought an unusual amount of showmanship to Japan’s often drab style of diplomacy. On Friday, Mr. Abe traded jokes and even exchanged soccer jerseys with the president of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara. The next day, Mr. Abe attended a tournament of the Japanese sport of judo in Abidjan.

Japan criticizes Beijing for its tendency to build lavish headquarters and office towers as donations for African politicians – including, most famously, the new $200-million headquarters of the African Union in Finfinnee (Addis Ababa), where Mr. Abe is scheduled to give a policy speech next week.

“Countries like Japan … cannot provide African leaders with beautiful houses or beautiful ministerial buildings,” Mr. Abe’s spokesman, Tomohiko Taniguchi, told the BBC.

But while the two countries take verbal shots at each other, the reality is that China has adopted a far more aggressive strategy in Africa, and has been enormously successful so far. China’s investment in Africa was reported to be about seven times that of Japan in 2011, and its exports to Africa were about five times greater.

China has become the top trading partner, or second-biggest trading partner, of about half of Africa’s countries. It is a major investor in Africa’s resources sector, and the biggest buyer of oil and minerals from many African countries. Its construction companies are building roads, highways, railway lines, sports stadiums, transit systems and hospitals across Africa.

Japan has lagged far behind in this race. Most of its engagement with Africa is as an aid donor. Last year it promised up to $32-billion in public and private assistance to Africa over the next five years, but this only confirmed its reputation as a donor, rather than a business partner.

Only a handful of Japanese investors are active in Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Mozambique  According to a fact sheet by the Japanese government, there are only two Japanese companies in Ivory Coast and only one in Ethiopia.

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has kicked off a visit to Ethiopia (Oromia) by meeting the  Oromo running stars.The Japanese premier received a gift from the son of late Oromo barefoot marathon legend Abebe Bikila, winner of the Tokyo Olympic marathon 50 years ago. “My name is Abe, but everybody teased me at school, calling me Abebe,” Mr Abe said. “Many Japanese  marathon runners would actually collapse after the race but when I saw Mr. Abebe actually stretching afterwards, it was such a surprise, even for a 10-year-old.”
In his visit to Ethiopia (Oromia), the Japansese prime minister was presented with a photo of Bikila winning Olympic gold in Tokyo, a gift from the late legend’s son, Yetnayet Abebe.”Today I had the opportunity to meet famous athletes from Ethiopia as well as the son of Mr. Abebe, as well as wonderful children boys and girls who will one day be gold medalists, or who will one day be winners at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,” Mr Abe said. Bikila died in 1973 from complications caused by a road accident four years before, and remains one of the great icons of running, especially in Japan. The Japanese prime minister also met with Oromo female road and track stars Meseret Defar, Tiki Gelana, Derartu Tulu and Ibrahim Jeilan.More can be read from original sources @https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/?s=oromo+athletics&searchbutton=go

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/14/national/abe-recalls-abebe-meets-ethiopias-running-heroes/#.UtcsptJdXbh
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/south-africa/140110/japan-china-lord-voldemort-africa

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/world/asia/japans-leader-pledges-aid-on-africa-tour.html?ref=world

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/japan-battles-china-for-influence-in-africa/article16288594/?click=tglobe

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