Tokyo, Nairobi to Cooperate on Indo-Pacific Framework, Mombasa Port Development

Presidential Press Service / Handout via Reuters
Kenya’s President William Ruto meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the State House in Nairobi on Wednesday.

NAIROBI — Japan and Kenya confirmed their cooperation Wednesday toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific, with China’s increasing hegemonic moves in mind.

At their summit meeting in Nairobi, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Kenyan President William Ruto also agreed that Japan would support developing Mombasa Port, the largest port in East Africa, a region facing the Indian Ocean.

Kenya is the region’s economic hub, and China has been entering into infrastructure projects around the port. Regarding projects such as Mombasa Port, there is concern about situations in which a creditor country uses massive debts as leverage to obtain excessive rights to use a borrowing nation’s infrastructure. The two leaders confirmed the importance of fair and transparent development finance.

At the meeting, Kishida explained to Ruto about Tokyo’s current plan to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, which Kishida announced in March during his visit to India.

“It is important that all countries concerned take a stand together on compliance with international rules,” Kishida said at the meeting.

Kishida appreciated Kenya’s offer to mediate in regard to Sudan, where fighting continues between the national army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and confirmed close cooperation in this regard. As for the situation in Ukraine, the two leaders agreed to condemn Russia’s aggression. At a joint press conference, Ruto also called for ending the war immediately.

This was the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to Kenya since 2016, when then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed the concept of the free and open Indo-Pacific in Kenya for the first time.