Why Everyone Will Be Thinking About China at the Upcoming Japan-Africa Summit

Eric Olander 欧瑞克
Aug 24 · 2 min read

54-countries and international organizations will convene at the end of August in Yokohama for the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development or TICAD. While the event is ostensibly about Japanese engagement with Africa, a lot of attendees will likely have China on their minds during the two-day summit.

Japanese officials are already signaling that they intend to use this year’s TICAD to highlight how Tokyo’s approach to the continent differs significantly from that of Beijing’s. Specifically, they’ve indicated that the final communique will likely include an expression of “concern” about excessive debt levels in Africa, a not-so-subtle critique of Chinese lending practices in Africa, and there will also be a lot of talk about the supposed differences in quality between Japanese and Chinese construction in Africa.

“Japan’s trade with Africa, compared to China’s trade with Africa, is not only relatively small but it is even shrinking. It is a result of the acceleration of China’s engagement with Africa.” — Seifudein Adem, Professor at Doshisha University

DR Congo-native and Ritsumeikan University economics professor Jean-Claude Maswana will be among the speakers at next week’s event. One of the issues that he plans to address relates to the competing agendas of the various stakeholders at events like TICAD.

“Japan and China both have their respective national interests when it comes to Africa, he explains, “but what role do African leaders have in defining their own interests with rather than simply be a recipient of other countries’ agendas?”

Professor Maswana joins Eric from Tsukuba, just outside of Tokyo, to share his views on what to expect from this year’s TICAD summit and why China will likely figure so prominently in the discussions.

For readers/listeners in Mainland China who cannot access the video above, please click here to listen to the podcast.

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Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque | @JCMaswana

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Eric Olander 欧瑞克

Written by

Managing Editor of The China Africa Project

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