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Yohei Sasakawa
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I Joined TICAD7 With PM Abe, More Than 40 African Leaders – 1 [2019/09/12]


Speaking at the TICAD7 Plenary Session in Yokohama on August 28, 2019 

The Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, known as TICAD7, was held in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, from August 28 to 30 2019.

Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe returned home on the evening of August 27 from Biarritz, France, where he attended the Group of Seven Summit.  On the following day, he delivered a keynote address at the opening session of TICAD7 and then closing remarks on the final day of the conference. He also met with 42 leaders of African nations and heads of four international organizations and spoke at the official side event organized by the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), perfectly implementing his minute-by-minute schedule during the three days in Yokohama.

Without flattering the prime minister, his physical strength and mental power are now totally different from the time ofthe first Abe Cabinet (September 2006 to August 2007). The international trust in and evaluation of the prime minister are extremely high, although the Japanese media do not give much coverage tohis reputation overseas. According to recent opinion polls, Japanese people cited his diplomatic initiatives as a policy they support most regardless of what the media report.

Following the G20 summit in Osaka on June 29-30 and TICAD7 in Yokohama on August 28-30, there will be the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan from September 20 to November 2 and the most important ceremony of the Reiwa era: to formally proclaim Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Set forOctober 22, this will take place in front of numerous foreign heads of state and government.

When Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi passed away while in office in May 2000, the media took up the issue of the health of the prime minister, but since then they have stayed quiet on the matter.

Prime Minister Abe works harder than anyone else in Japan and is said to stand out among world leaders in terms of the hours he puts in.The late Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki used to play golf almost every weekend at Narashino Country Club, but there was no particular media criticism of him.For a prime minister, who needs to make big decisions, physical and mental stability are crucial.

Turning now to the first-day plenary session of the TICAD7, there was a three-minutetime limit to speeches by African heads of state, with the microphone automatically turned off after three minutes. In their home countries, perhaps, these leaders can speak with almost no limit. It was a pity they were only allowed three minutes to speak after coming all the way to Japan, but given that there were as many as 20 speakers per session, some sort of rule was inevitable. At United Nations conferences, speeches are limited to three to five minutes.

On that day, there were many heads of state who could not finish their speeches in three minutes, with many forced to end in halfway. The moderator kept having to apologize and blamed it on the sound system.

As a private citizen, I was given a chance to make the same three-minute speech, sandwiched between presidents of African nations, thanks mostly to the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s thoughtfulness and the international recognition of the SAA’s years of support for poor farmers in Africa.

TICAD was held every five years from 1993 until its fifth session in 2013 in Yokohama. Since then, it has occurred every three years, with the first edition on the African continent taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.

The seventh conference was co-hosted by the Japanese government, the United Nations, the World Bank, the U.N. Development Program and the African Union Commission.

My speech at the plenary session of TICAD7 on August 28, 2019 can been seen HERE.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 19:41 | TOWARD HUMAN SECURITY | URL | comment(0)