23 February 2022
Fourth year of Reiwa

Today I would like to celebrate the 62nd birthday of His Majesty the Emperor. Due to difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is
highly unfortunate that I am unable to host the reception to celebrate His Majesty the Emperor’s birthday this year, as we were also unable to celebrate last year.
On this auspicious day, I would like to share with you my thoughts on
relations between Japan and South Africa, especially in light of the
Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8),
which will be held this year in August.
Commitment by TICAD7 and Benefit to South Africa
TICAD has been developing into a pioneering forum on development in
Africa, led by the Government of Japan in collaboration with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World
Bank, and the African Union Commission (AUC).
At TICAD7 in 2019 held in Yokohama, Japan made commitments to develop
industrial human resources, promote innovation and investment, expand
UHC and strengthen the Africa Health Initiative, institutional building
and governance, and has implemented these commitments sincerely and concretely.
These commitments have tangible benefits throughout the entire African continent, including South Africa. In terms of investment, at TICAD7, Japan committed to a total of $20 billion on the African continent in the next three years, as it did in the three years since TICAD6.
These investments are part of that commitment. Among the investments
done in South Africa, the most recent example is that Toyota began
production of its first hybrid vehicle on the African continent just
before the 2021 United Nations climate change conference (COP26), after overcoming COVID-19 and the unrest in July 2021. Nissan and Isuzu also made capital investment for local production of new models in South
In accordance with its commitment to TICAD7, Japan also provided support in collaboration with international organizations. Toyota, with the support of the Japanese government and the UNDP, a cosponsor of TICAD,
opened a “Toyota Manufacturing School” in KwaZulu-Natal and is fully committed to the education of and employment creation for South African youth, including job placement for those who complete the program. This
support is a tripartite partnership between the public and private
sectors and international organizations.

In addition, the Government of Japan, through the UNDP, has been working on measures to combat COVID-19 infection and to provide employment
support to workers affected by COVID-19, support for vulnerable women against COVID-19 and GBV through UN Women, and measures against marine plastic litter through UNIDO. These are also the outcomes of discussions
In particular, the Toyota Manufacturing School is one of the major
achievements of TICAD, which was achieved through the cooperation of the
Japanese government, international organizations and private companies.
In addition, based on its commitment to TICAD7, Japan has been providing
a variety of support to meet the needs of local communities and civil
One example is the various projects that Japan has been implementing in
South Africa since the 1990s in the framework of Grant Assistance for
Grass-Roots Human Security Projects. Since TICAD7, 19 cooperation
projects have been implemented in various parts of South Africa,including Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape and Eastern Cape, the areas
of health, education, women’s health and empowerment, disability
support, and skills development, over the three-year period 2019-2021.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Tharollo Drop-In-Centre in
Tshamahansi, Limpopo Province. The renovation of this center was one of
the projects done in 2016 as a part of support to the local community,
when a Japanese company decided to participate in the mining operation
going on in this area. During my visit, I realized how well it has taken
root in and contributed to the local community during the past six
This is one of the examples of cooperation between Japanese companies
and the Government of Japan to address the issues facing South African
local communities. Human resource development is essential to South
Africa’s economic growth and was one of the central themes at TICAD7.
One example is the African Business Education Initiative, known as ABE
Initiative, which is in line with South Africa’s policy of emphasizing
the promotion of business relations with Japan. Under the ABE
Initiative, 123 South Africans have studied at Japanese universities and
are now contributing to the business and economic development of South Africa by utilizing their experiences, including employment at Japanese
companies in South Africa.
Business Environment I have a strong desire to see Japanese companies
continue to expand their operations in South Africa and create jobs, but to do that I would like to emphasize once again that the protection and
safety of all lives, property of the investors and property of employees is of primary importance in the activities of Japanese companies.
From this point of view, the unrest that occurred in KZN and Gauteng in
July 2021 was regrettable. I strongly hope that such incidents will
never occur again in the future, and I welcome any kind of concrete
measures the South African government will take to prevent its
recurrence. Also related to this, there are urgent needs to launch the
Japan-South Africa Business Forum, which both countries committed to in
the presence of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Investment Conference
in 2019. Japan is ready for that.
Carbon Neutral Society In order for the further strengthening of the
relationship between Japan and South Africa in the future, discussions
toward a decarbonized society have become particularly important in
recent years, especially cooperation in the field of hydrogen. South
Africa not only has an abundance of renewable energy sources for solar
and wind power, but also has crucial minerals necessary for fuel cell
and the capacity to produce hydrogen on its own land.
In this respect, South Africa is such a blessed country in the world
and attracting worldwide attention. Japanese companies are also paying close attention to South Africa’s potential, and I would like to further
promote the cooperation between Japan and South Africa toward a Carbon Neutral Society.
In this connection, I highly appreciate that the Minister of Higher
Education, Science and Innovation, Dr. Blade Nzimande, has participated
twice in the annual Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting held by Japan, where he delivered very meaningful speeches. Science and technology are the keys to advancing a hydrogen society.
Scientists in Japan and South Africa have been conducting joint research
in various fields, including decarbonization, under several cooperative
frameworks such as Agreement on Co-operation in Science and Technology
in 2003, SATREPS, and AJ-CORE.
The Government of Japan will continue to support these trends.
Culture brings people of South Africa and Japan closer together even
though they are geographically distant, and reminds us of the importance
of interest in and understanding of each other’s cultures to the
advancement of the relationship between our two nations.
For the first time since 2019, I have the pleasure to announce that we
will hold the 27th Japanese Film Festival in Pretoria and Johannesburg
in March. I hope that you will enjoy the latest trend in Japanese films.
Japan is promoting Japanese food around the world; Japanese Cuisine
Goodwill Ambassador is one of the programmes that serves this purpose.
In January this year, Mr Peter Tempelhoff at FYN Restaurant in Cape Town
was appointed as the first Goodwill Ambassador to promote Japanese
Cuisine in South Africa. FYN has been promoting the appeal of the taste
of Japan through its fine cuisine and I am grateful that Mr Tempelhoff
will take on the role as a Goodwill Ambassador in South Africa.
We will keep up our strive towards making South Africa feel closer to
Japan. I will continue to maintain and accelerate close relations
between our two countries at all levels. In this regard, I strongly hope
that the Japan-South Africa Partnership Forum, which has not been held
since 2013, will be held in Japan as soon as the COVID-19 situation
permits, to further promote cooperation between Japan and South Africa.
I would like to close my message by offering my heartfelt prayers and
wishes for His Majesty’s continued good health, and the prosperity of
the Imperial Court, as well as the good health of everyone else reading
this message.

The Diplomatic Informer
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