"Nichts mehr davon, ich bitt euch. Zu essen gebt ihm, zu wohnen.
Habt ihr die Blöße bedeckt, gibt sich die Würde von selbst."
Friedrich Schiller
  May 2008 FOOD

Japanese Prime Minister Pledges Doubling of Food in Africa

Less than a week before the FAO conference is scheduled to begin in Rome, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda addressing the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in Japan's port city of Yokohama, said: "As Africa seeks to achieve its own Green Revolution, I would like to put out a call for action aiming to double the current rice production output of 14 million tons over the next 10 years."

"With a wealth of agricultural experience, Japan is willing to cooperate with countries and international organizations to develop irrigation systems, improve the varieties of crops raised, and foster workers in the field of agriculture," he said. "If I were to liken the history of African development to a great narrative, then what we are about to do now is to open to a new page, titled the `century of African growth.' In the future, Africa will become a powerful engine driving the growth of the world. Through preparations for TICAD IV, I believe that we have come to share a common intuition about Africa's prospects for the future.

"Here at this juncture, Japan wants to walk alongside the African people, shoulder to shoulder. In order to boost the momentum for African growth, the most important thing is the development of infrastructure. The infrastructure that Japan is to build must be the `people's infrastructure,' bringing prosperity to communities and the people living there," Prime Minister Fukuda said.

The summit was attended by 52 African governments, including some 40 heads of state and government, 12 Asian countries, 22 donor nations, the EU, and officials from 16 African regional organizations and 55 international organizations. Fukuda met personally with 29 African presidents and premiers on Tuesday and Wednesday and is scheduled to meet another 11 African leaders on Thursday.

During the conference, Fukuda announced that Japan would double its official development assistance (ODA) in the next five years. The Japanese package includes up to $4 billion of soft loans to Africa over the next five years to help improve infrastructure. Fukuda also said that Japan would train 100,000 people in Africa over the next five years as health care workers.

Japan's External Affairs Ministry spokesman, Kazuo Kodama, said the results of TICAD IV will be fed into the G-8 summit in Hokkaido in Japan scheduled to be held July 7-9. Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda will also be going to the FAO conference in Rome next week.