Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected in Kenya Tuesday as part of the four-leg African tour, his first since he became the Asian country’s head of government two years ago.
A tentative itinerary released by his office said he was coming to Nairobi, sub-Sahara’s largest recipient of Japan’s official development assistance (Oda), to seek cooperation on a number of global crises including that in Sudan and Ukraine.
The Japanese leader had already visited Egypt as well as Ghana from Saturday and his trip will also take him to Mozambique.
“I hope to engage in discussions on the situation in Ukraine and other international issues, and reinforce our collaboration," Kishida told reporters before his departure on Saturday, according to a transcript shared by his office.
“With the very foundation of the international order facing jeopardy, I will deepen my discussions with the leaders of each of these countries and confirm our cooperation, and I will tie all our talks into the G7 Hiroshima Summit,” he said referring to an upcoming meeting of G7 leaders in his country this month. The gathering of the world’s richest countries is due to on May 19 to 20 and they are expected to rally for support for Ukraine, whose invasion by Russia has been blamed for the current economic turmoil across the globe.
Though in Africa, the war in Ukraine has not elicited the supported hoped for by West against Russia, frustrating efforts to isolate Moscow. This is because some countries rely on Russia for grain and oil, and weapons.
He is expected to hold a summit with Kenya’s President William Ruto to discuss economic cooperation as well. They will also mark 60 years of cooperation. Japan established diplomatic relations with Kenya shortly after Nairobi’s independence and set up an embassy in 1964. Kenya responded by setting up one in Tokyo in 1979.
Kishida will be the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit Kenya since 2016 when Shinzo Abe visited for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad).
Last year, Kishida had told African leaders of Japan's desire to front itself as a "partner growing together with Africa".
At least 100 Japanese companies operate in Kenya today and Tokyo’s Oda supports a range of projects in Kenya including agriculture, energy, water sanitation, medical care and education. Japan has spent at least $2 billion on grants and technical cooperation on these projects even though Kenya also owes about $3 billion in loans to Japan.
The PM’s trip though has more significance on international scale. In Egypt, he spoke of the war in Ukraine and how the world should respond.
“We reviewed the challenges the international arena is witnessing today and in particular, the massive economic repercussions left by the Ukrainian crisis on developing countries that exceeded what Covid-19 pandemic caused in terms of a rise in inflation rates, energy and food prices and expectations of a decline in the growth rate,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said after the meeting on Sunday in Cairo.
After the summit in Nairobi, Kishida will then visit Mozambique where he will hold talks with the country’s President Filipe Nyusi. Both Mozambique and Ghana are currently serving on the UN Security Council as non-permanent members while Egypt hosts the headquarters of the League of Arab States.