Analysis by Kingsley Ighobor
NEW YORK (IDN | Africa Renewal) - To many Africans, Japan is a country acclaimed for economic and technological prowess. Johnson Obaluyi in Lagos, Nigeria, says Toyota, the ubiquitous automotive manufacturer, comes to mind whenever Japan is mentioned. For Kwesi Obeng, a Ghanaian living in Nairobi, Kenya, it is technology. Beageorge Cooper, a consultant for the World Bank in Monrovia, Liberia, says she thinks of Japan as “a former world economic power”.
But it’s a different matter when Africans are asked about Japan-Africa relations. “I will have to read up on that,” says Cooper. “I think we are importing their Toyotas,” recollects Obaluyi. “They support research into tropical diseases in Africa,” says Obeng.
Such scant knowledge of the full gamut of Japan-Africa relations hardly reflects the true picture on the ground, considering that it was as recently as 2013 that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced a whopping $32 billion five-year support for Africa’s development projects.