Concluding his official three-state visit to Africa, Taro Kono, Foreign Minister of Japan has requested Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) to attend and lead the peace and security sessions of the upcoming seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VII) to be held by the end of August in Yokohama.

The foreign minister arrived at Addis Ababa on Sunday after concluding his visits to Angola and South Sudan since last Thursday and among his bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Abiy, his government’s interest to delegate the premier to peace and security session of TICAD was said to be on the table.

Natsuko Sakata, assistance press secretary for the international press division with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, on Sunday, has briefed reporters about the TICAD-VII and the visits of minster Sakata. She said the foreign minister has handed PM Abiy a formal request. However, the confirmation of his participation and whether he would lead the peace and security forum of the TICAD meetings is yet to be confirmed in the foreseeable future.

Three months away, the TICAD forum had been an important platform the government of Japan has initiated in 1990s with a view to fade the “Afro-Pessimism” which the western world has developed towards Africa. Some 25 years later, Japan currently is witnessing a competition from the likes of China and the US towards befriending Africa.

The recently concluded the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative puts Africa on the map. In fact, China has an Africa oriented economic forum: Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and during the last summit China has pledged to provide USD 60 billion for Africa’s infrastructural development.

Similarly, During the 2016 TICAD meeting (the six series and the first to be held in Africa where Kenya hosted 53 heads of state and 11,000 participants), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pledged to extend USD 30 billion for Africa’s development and to provide trainings and human capacity development supports for 10 million African youth. How much of that pledged funding and capacity development support has been materialized so far? Well, that is one question reporters are asking these days and looking for more details.

The upcoming TICAD will deliberate on economic reform, businesses as well as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) issues and Africa’s Agenda 2063 in addition to focusing on peace and security matters.

Highlighting on the ongoing preparations and briefing officials, mister Kono has departed to Japan to be able to attend the final events which officially been regarded as a week-long extended holiday for the coronation of the new king, Crown Prince Naruhito. The new king has replaced his imperial father Emperor Akihito whom officially abdicated ceremonial Throne a few days ago.

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