Since yesterday, I have been visiting Ethiopia to conclude my visit to Africa. I am delighted to be able to visit Ethiopia for the first time in about four years as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
Although conflicts had been raging in northern Ethiopia for the past two years, today, a ceasefire is observed based on the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of last November between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Japan welcomes this positive development and will work together with Ethiopia to advance the peace process and reconstruction.
Today, the international community is at a historic turning point. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has had a major impact such as food crisis and soaring fertilizer prices, especially on Africa. It is even more important for the international community to work together to respond effectively to the various challenges it faces, such as climate change and energy issues, and opaque and unfair development finance. In this context, this year, Japan, as the G7 Presidency, is placing great importance on directly listening to the “voices” of Africa. My visit to Ethiopia this time also demonstrates Japan’s strong will to walk together with Africa.
The Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not only a security issue concerning Europe but also an outrageous behavior that shakes the foundation of the international order. Today’s Ukraine may be tomorrow’s East Asia or Africa. It could happen anywhere in the world.
On top of this sense of crisis, it is also deplorable that the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) was terminated due to Russia’s refusal to renew it. The Initiative is important in that it delivered food to countries and regions in dire need of food and contributed to the stability of food prices and global food security. As the world is struggling with food issues, Japan hopes that Ethiopia will also urge Russia to return to the international framework and to resume the grain export from Ukraine.
It is the clear responsibility, as well as the clear interest, of all nations to uphold international law and maintain the international order. Japan will further cooperate with African countries, including Ethiopia, to defend the free and open international order based on the rule of law.
In view of our bilateral relations, Japan has been contributing to the development of human resources in Ethiopia. This contribution includes the construction of the TICAD Human Resource Development Center which is scheduled to be completed this month; the development of industrial human resources by promoting KAIZEN at the center; and the improvement of access to safe water through the construction of a water supply system in Bahir Dar city, the capital of Amhara Region, where the handover ceremony was held this July, as well as the development of human resources to maintain and manage the water supply system.
Japan will also continue to support Ethiopia’s efforts for peace and stability with a focus on human security. For instance, in December last year, Japan provided humanitarian assistance of approximately USD 24 million through international organizations to conflict- and drought-affected areas in Ethiopia. In addition, since the beginning of this year, Japan has provided emergency grant aid of approximately USD 3.5 million in response to the food crisis in Ethiopia through the UN World Food Programme in March, and food assistance of Japanese rice worth approximately USD 5.5 million in May. Japan will continue to provide assistance that stands by Ethiopia.
At last year’s TICAD meeting, which was first launched by Japan and Africa in 1993 just after the end of the Cold War to discuss African development, Japan expressed its firm intention to be “partner growing together with Africa” and to work together to realize a resilient Africa that Africa itself aims to achieve.
In order to address the various challenges for the international community and to further advance bilateral relations between Japan and Ethiopia, I look forward to having frank discussions today with my Ethiopian colleagues who share the values and principles of democracy and the rule of law.
Hayashi Yoshimasa is Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan