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The Nippon Foundation Team Congratulated by Prime Minister Abe on Winning World Deep-sea Technology Competition [2019年09月27日(Fri)]

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A group photo of the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team, winner of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, taken at The Nippon Foundation on September 19, 2019.



I accompanied the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team to pay a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his official residence on September 18 to report on the team’s winning of the international competition in deep-sea exploration technology, called the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.


As I introduced each member of the group to the Japanese leader, Mr. Abe congratulated us on winning the $4 million award.


Mr. Abe said he had wanted to go to the seafloor eversince he read as a child Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. It is crucial to explore the topography of the seabed if we are to make the most effective use of marine resources, the prime minister said, expressing his hope that we will make tangible progress to achieve our final goal of mapping the entirety of the world’s ocean floor by 2030.


The team, made up of 15 international graduates from 13 countries of The Nippon Foundation/GEBCO Postgraduate Training Program at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), spoke with Prime Minister Abe about the technology that they developed and how their model of international scientific cooperation can help to map the gaps that still remain in our understanding of the ocean floor.


They demonstrated their winning concept to Mr. Abe with scale replicas of the vessels that they used, as well as 3D visualizations of the data that they collected during the competition, and gave him a copy of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) 2019 – the most recent version of the map of the world’s seabed.


Also joining us at our meeting with the prime minister was Team KUROSHIO, a Japanese team that placed second in the competition.


It is my sincere hope that the meeting will further strengthen the cooperation between the ocean mappers involved with GEBCO, scientists from Team KUROSHIO and Japanese officials as global efforts continue to map the ocean floor.


As Prime Minister Abe noted, understanding the bathymetry of the world’s oceans is imperative for improving maritime navigation, and also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources.  A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami, and better understand tides, wave action and sediment transport.


Working with all the stakeholders of the international ocean community, we are determined to do everything we can to achieve the goal of mapping the entire seabed by the end of the next decade.

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I asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to feel the weight (12 kilograms!)
of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE trophy during our meeting on September 18, 2019.

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With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center) athis official residence in Tokyo on September 18, 2019.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Let’s Unite for “Zero Leprosy” [2019年09月25日(Wed)]

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Group photo with participants of the Global Forum of People’s Organizations on Hansen’s Disease, in Manila, on September 9, 2019.



During my recent visit to Manila to attend key international conferences on leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, I called on participants, including academics, medical stakeholders and those affected by the disease, to unite toward the goal of “Zero Leprosy,” a historical challenge for humankind.


I first spoke at the Global Forum of People’s Organizations on Hansen’s Disease on September 9 and then at the 20th International Leprosy Congress (ILC) on September 11 in my capacity as Chairman of The Nippon Foundation and World Health Organization (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination.


The Global Forum, organized by The Nippon Foundation (TNF) and its sister organization, the Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF), brought together some 60 representatives of organizations of persons affected by leprosy from 23 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. 


In my remarks, I enthusiastically welcomed their participation in the forum, thanked them for sharing their experience of the disease, and underlined the important role they can play in tackling stigma and discrimination.


I called on them to urge their governments to fully implement the UN General Assembly resolution and accompanying principle and guidelines unanimously adopted in 2010 on elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members. From the time TNF and SHF started to raise the leprosy issue as a human rights problem at the UN, it took seven hard years of lobbying and the efforts of many stakeholders before the resolution was adopted.


The delegates to the Global Forum then attended the subsequent ILC, hosted by the Philippine Department of Health, where a person affected by leprosy from the Philippines presented the forum’s conclusions and recommendations based on the preceding four days of discussions.


In my address to the ILC, I shared my experiences over the last 40 years, during which I have devoted myself to the struggle to eliminate leprosy and its associated stigma and discrimination from the world, visiting 120 countries and regions. And meeting with 150 national leaders and countless numbers of those affected by leprosy.


Noting the contribution to date of many individuals and organizations that have worked hard for the elimination of leprosy, I heartily welcomed the formation last year of a new coalition of stakeholders, the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy. I believe that this collaboration will greatly enhance our work toward achieving “Zero Leprosy.” 


Taking this into account, I expressed my opposition to leprosy being considered as one of “the Neglected Tropical Diseases.” “Leprosy has never been neglected even for a moment by both persons affected and by people who have worked hard for their betterment. In my opinion, this medical terminology feels like it is looking down on the patients and also shows lack of respect towards those who are still fighting against leprosy today.” 


Leprosy is an ongoing issue and there is still much work to be done. To medical stakeholders who attended the congress, I requested that they continue working on discovering the causes of transmission of leprosy, developing a vaccine, and creating prosthetics and orthotics for those with impairments. I also noted that with globalization and migration, there are new cases, even in countries that used to see few cases. “However, the number of leprosy medical specialists is decreasing rapidly worldwide.”


During my stay in Manila, I also had the extraordinary honor to be conferred the prestigious degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, by Father Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J., President of the Ateneo de Manila University of the Philippines, for my lifes work against leprosy.


I receive this degree together with all those who have worked with me. Now, I am encouraged to take even further action in my remaining years,” I said at the 2019 Traditional University Awards of the Ateneo de Manila University.



3.jpgSpeaking at the 20th International Leprosy Congress (ILC) in Manila, on September 11, 2019.



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Receiving the degree Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, from Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J., President of Ateneo de Manila University,in Manila on September 10, 2019.



Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:10 | LEPROSY | URL | comment(0)
We Warmly Welcome Senior Military Officers from Myanmar on Japan Visit [2019年09月20日(Fri)]

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Speaking at the reception to welcome senior military officers from Myanmar at Hotel New Otani in Tokyo on August 23, 2019. 



We wholeheartedly welcomed 10 senior military officers from Myanmar who visited Japan from August 23 to September 3 as part of The Nippon Foundation’s Japan-Myanmar Military Officers Exchange Program.


At a reception held at Hotel New Otani in Tokyo on August 23, I told some 60 attendants from both countries that The Nippon Foundation has been engaged in mediating between the Myanmar government and armed ethnic minority groups, who have been feuding for the past seven decades.


I said that the foundation has so far arranged a total of 95 meetings with the Myanmar military and other stakeholders, expressing my hope that these efforts will be a positive step toward eventually achieving national reconciliation.


In response, the head of the Myanmar delegation, Lieutenant General Than Tun Oo, commander of No. 6 Bureau of Special Operations, Myanmar Defence Services, expressed his country’s gratitude for the foundation’s wholeheartedpeace efforts, adding that delegation members will make the best use of what they learn from the visit.


I was speaking in my capacity as the chairman of The Nippon Foundation and the special envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar.


Earlier in that day, the Myanmar delegation paid a courtesy call on then Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, who was later succeeded by Taro Kono, former foreign minister, in the Cabinet reshuffle on September 11.


This was the sixth group of senior military officers from Myanmar to visit Japan under theprogram that The Nippon Foundation launched in 2014 in cooperation with the Japanese Defense Ministry. The aim is to promote mutual trust between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Myanmar’s military and familiarize the latter with the role of the military under a civilian government.


During the 12-day visit, the delegation traveled to Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, to observe the Fuji Firepower Review 2019 at the East Fuji Maneuver Area and tour the Air SDF’s Hamamatsu Air Base and to Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan, to tour the Ground SDF’s Camp Kaitaichi and the Maritime SDF’S Kure and Etajima naval bases.


They also made a trip to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and had free time to interact with Japanese society during their stay.




I might add that the senior Myanmar officers took theopportunity to visit a monument in Hamamatsu commemorating Japan-Myanmar relations. This is where the young Aung San, father of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, lived in exile in 1940 in his twenties before he became the founding father of modern-day Myanmar. I believe the visit symbolized the decades of friendship and mutual trust between the peoples of our two countries.



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Group photo with the Myanmar military delegation in Tokyo on August 23, 2019

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | MYANMAR | URL | comment(0)
I Joined TICAD7 With PM Abe, More Than 40 African Leaders – 2 Sasakawa Africa Association to Help Double Rice Production By 2030 [2019年09月18日(Wed)]

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The above photograph was taken during the SAA official side event and carried by The Japan Times on the front page of its September 29 edition, although the accompanying story was not about the SAA event itself.

To the left of Prime Minister Abe is AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and to his right are SAA Chairperson Ruth K. Oniang’o and myself.


The Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) was established by my late father Ryoichi Sasakawa, the founder and the first chairman of The Nippon Foundation, together with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug in response to the devastating famine in Ethiopia in 1984. Their bottom line was to “teach people in Africa how to fish rather than give them fish.”


I accompanied the trio in 1985 on their six-day whirlwind trip to the Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Ghana. We met with their presidents individually and agreed to launch a project to train people how to increase food production.


It was soon after the United States launched a failed attempt to assassinate Colonel Muammar Gaddafi[ of Libya in April 1986 in a pinpoint bombing raid. Ever since, the SAA has been one of the organizations in the world to continue to be engaged in agricultural training for three decades in Africa.      


I participated in an opening plenary session of TICAD7, an official side event organized by the SAA and a dinner hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on August 28, and energetically held talks with the following African leaders on the next two days:


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

President Yoweri Museveni, Republic of Uganda

President Azali Assoumani, Union of the Comoros

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Republic of Ghana

Mr. Ibrahim Salim Bagus, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Republic of Malawi

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Republic of Mali

President Julius Maada Bio, Republic of Sierra Leone

President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Burkina Faso

Mr. Adriano Afonso Maleiane, Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Mozambique

Joaquim Alberto Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB)


The TICAD7 official side event hosted by the SAA was marked by lively discussion under the theme of “Sasakawa in Africa – Building on the past, looking to the future.” I sincerely thanked Prime Minister Abe and President Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for giving keynote speeches at this symposium.

In his address, Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s intent to help double Africa’s rice production to 56 million tons by the year 2030. “Japanese technology can play a key role in innovation, which is a key to agriculture,” he told the delegates.


The prime minister added that he was pleased the SAA signed a memorandum with the governmental Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) earlier in the day to cooperate to achieve this goal.


“We’ve always believed in the agriculture potential of Africa,” I responded, adding: “We are paying more attention to income-generating activities. We want to help shift the mindset of smallholder farmers from producing-to-eat to producing-to-sell.  We are hopeful that Africa’s youth can take agriculture to a new era, and that they can see a career path in agriculture.”


On the gravity of the food crisis on the continent, I totally agreed with President Akinwumi Adesina of the African Development Bank when he said in his keynote address: “In spite of all the gains made in agriculture, we are not winning the global war against hunger. We must all arise collectively and end global hunger. To do that, we must end hunger in Africa. Hunger diminishes our humanity.”


According to the 2019 report of U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of hungry people globally stood at a disconcerting 821 million, of which Africa accounts for 31 percent at 251 million people.


Recalling my later father for his tireless efforts in tackling hunger, Mr. Adesina said of the SAA: “Passion, dedication and commitment to the development of agriculture and the pursuit of food security in our world has been the hallmark of your work.” 


My speech at the TICAD7 Official Side Event in Yokohama on August 28, 2019, can been seen HERE.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | TOWARD HUMAN SECURITY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to the Philippines – 3 [2019年09月16日(Mon)]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to the Philippines from September 8 to 11, 2019.

[September 11, 2019: Manila]

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Speaking at a 20th International Leprosy Congress (ILC)


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This congress is very unique because it is open not only for doctors and health personnel, but also for many other stakeholders including NGOs and persons affected by leprosy.

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"Let us unite towards “Zero Leprosy,” a historical challenge for all humankind!"
My speech is available HERE

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Receiving a letter of appreciation from Dr. Roch Christian Johnson, President of the International Leprosy Association

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With other plenary speakers
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】Visit to the Philippines – 2 [2019年09月13日(Fri)]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to the Philippines from September 8 to 11, 2019.

[September 10, 2019: Manila]


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Organizing The Nippon Foundation scholars and fellows’ luncheon at the Ateneo de Manila University. 


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Speaking at the luncheon

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I greatly enjoyed the reunion with more than 80 scholars and alumni from 6 scholarship programs; Asian Public Intellectuals, Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund, Asian Peacebuilders Scholarship, ASEAN University Network Disability and Public Policy, World Maritime University, and ISAK-NF scholarship.

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2019 Traditional University Awards Ceremony of Ateneo de Manila University

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Receiving the Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, of Ateneo de Manila University from Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J, President of the university

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Speaking at the ceremony and my speech is available HERE


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With Fr. Jose M. Cruz S.J., Vice President for University and Global Relations of the Ateneo de Manila University

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 18:35 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
I Joined TICAD7 With PM Abe, More Than 40 African Leaders – 1 [2019年09月12日(Thu)]

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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)
【Photo Diary】Visit to the Philippines – 1 [2019年09月10日(Tue)]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my visit to the Philippines from September 8 to 11, 2019.

[September 9, 2019: Manila]


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Group photo with the participants of Global Forum of People's Organizations on Hansen's Disease!

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Giving lectures at the Global Forum 

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60 people from 23 countries around the world joined the event. 


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Please "Share" !
With an old friend Mr. Uday Thakar  
(adviser to APAL - Association for Persons Affected by Leprosy)


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From left: Ms. Asakawa, Dr. Saito, and Chief-representative Mr. Wada
(all three from JICA), myself,  Dr. Kikuchi (Japanese Association Manila Medical Clinic), Mr. Okada (Embassy of Japan in Manila), and Mr. Tanami (special adviser to The Nippon Foundation)

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Dr. Francisco T. Duque III, Secretary of Health


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A toast at dinner 
(Left: Jennifer from CLAP who was the master of ceremony for the Global Forum)

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"Kanpai!" with the leaders of organization for persons affected by leprosy around the world. 

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I received a painting as a gift

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With Mr. Lopes (a person affected by leprosy) painted my portrait 
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 23:38 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】TICAD7 – 3 [2019年09月04日(Wed)]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my participation at The Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), from August 28 to 30, 2019.

[August 30, 2019: Yokohama, JAPAN]

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Meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

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Meeting with President Yoweri Museveni, Republic of Uganda
This is our 5th meeting!

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)
【Photo Diary】TICAD7 – 2 [2019年09月02日(Mon)]
I would like to share with you some of the photographs taken during my participation at The Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), from August 28 to 30, 2019.

[August 29, 2019: Yokohama, JAPAN]


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Meeting with President Azali Assoumani, Union of the Comoros

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Meeting with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Republic of Ghana


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Tasting TICAD 7 original candy

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With Mr. Ibrahim Salim Bagus, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Republic of Malawi (right to Sasakawa) and Professor Ruth K. Oniang’o, Chairperson of Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA)  

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Posing with President Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA, Republic of Mali

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Being interviewed by media from Mali

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With President Julius Maada BIO, Republic of Sierra Leone

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Meeting with President Roch Marc Christian KABORE, Burkina Faso (right) and Professor Ruth K. Oniang’o, Chairperson of SAA (center) 


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With Mr. Adriano Afonso Maleiane,Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Mozambique (center) and the board members of SAA




Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | PHOTO DIARY | URL | comment(0)