Prime Minister Should Work to Mold International Public Opinion

To halt behavior that disregards international law, it is essential to create international public opinion that deems such actions to be intolerable. Japan must make the most of its diplomatic ties with Africa and work to restore order.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has begun an overseas tour that includes four African countries: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique.

The prime minister’s choice of Egypt and the other nations is likely aimed at deepening ties with emerging countries prior to a summit of the Group of Seven advanced nations to be held in Hiroshima City from May 19.

In Egypt, the prime minister met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and agreed on the importance of upholding international order based on the rule of law, considering the crisis in Ukraine. The two leaders also reaffirmed their close coordination toward the early de-escalation of the situation in Sudan.

Kishida then toured the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is being constructed with official development assistance from Japan.

As the West’s confrontation with China and Russia intensifies, the roles of emerging countries collectively known as the Global South are increasingly important. This is because in the U.N. General Assembly, where each country has one vote, the outcome of resolutions depends partly on the votes of 54 African nations.

Many African countries distrust the West, partly due to their history of colonial rule. This was why South Africa, Mozambique and some other African nations abstained from voting on a resolution condemning Russia at the U.N. General Assembly in March last year.

Japan has long worked to overcome poverty and improve infrastructure in Africa through its ODA and took a leading role in 1993 by establishing the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which has met eight times to support efforts toward African self-reliance.

Japan has historically been free from African ill will and has provided assistance to African countries carefully tailored to the circumstances in each nation, so there is much room for Tokyo to show its strengths.

A stable international order is a prerequisite for the political and economic development of emerging countries. Japan needs to persistently persuade other countries that they cannot allow violent acts that subvert the rule of law, for any reason.

Both China and Russia are stepping up efforts to reach out to Africa. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited seven African countries in January and February. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang also chose Africa for his first overseas tour.

It is likely that Moscow and Beijing are attempting to win African hearts and minds in order to counter the international public opinion being fashioned by Japan and Western countries.

Tokyo should spread awareness that if the status quo is unilaterally changed by a major power, it could have a negative impact on emerging countries in the future.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 2, 2023)