Japanese Prime Minister Tours China Tied African Countries

Japanese Prime Minister Tours China Tied African Countries
Fumio Kishida

The Lede: Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida is on a weeklong tour of Africa in a bid to counter China’s growing influence in key countries

What We Know:

  • The prime minister’s agenda on his weeklong tour in Africa includes visits with Egyptian president Abedl Fatteh el-Sisi, Mozambican president Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, Ghanian president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Kenyan president William Ruto. While in Cairo, Kishida addressed the Arab League.
  • In the meetings, Japan will be highlighting China’s economic and diplomatic presence in these and other African countries, pledging humanitarian aid and economic support for the region, and vowing to help resolve the ongoing crisis in Sudan.
  • Kishida aims to strengthen ties with the Global South ahead of Japan hosting the annual G-7 conference in Hiroshima. The G-7 countries will be issuing a strong condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine later in the month in reinforcing an “international order based on the rule of law” and Japan seeks the support of neutral countries.

The Background: Egypt has recently joined other Arab countries in expressing interest in joining the BRICS group. China has invested heavily in resource-rich Mozambique with the construction of a new liquified natural gas project underway since November. In March, Ghana's finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta traveled to Beijing and discussed restructuring the country’s debt with Chinese officials amid its ongoing economic crisis. China is Kenya’s largest trading partner with the two countries experiencing a nearly 30-fold increase since 2000 and jumping 27% in the last year alone.

Likely Outcomes:

  • Japan’s longstanding political and economic position on the side of the U.S., along with the rest of the G-7 countries, will remain intact and serve as a platform in Asia for both military posturing as well as market weighting – especially in the case of the technology market – against China’s growing strength.
  • As with the recent attempts by the U.S. to woo countries in Africa away from the pull of Chinese influence, Japan’s outreach may be too little too late. China has already taken enormous advantage in development and infrastructure investments across the continent. With sizeable and active geopolitical positioning in the major areas of competition with China in the Indo-Pacific and Russia in Europe, the Western-aligned countries will likely fall short in dedicating as much attention and achieving a comparable level of success that China has.
  • Like many other countries, especially in the Global South, that have not strictly aligned themselves in the competition between the leading powers, the African leaders that the Japanese prime minister is visiting will seek to claim as many benefits as possible from Western-aligned countries while continuing to enjoy the favor of the growing China-Russia sphere.


“[Chinese officials] have been going all over Africa and Latin America. At this rate, we’ll lose to them.” – Fumio Kishida, prime minister of Japan

“Japan must be careful to avoid the perception that its focus is solely on business and economics, and not on the social development and well-being of African nations.” - Chinwe Esimai, managing director and co-head of corporate affairs at Citigroup

Good Reads:

Japan's prime minister is visiting Africa in an attempt to counter China's influence (Yahoo News)

Japan steps up diplomacy to avoid 'losing' Global South to China (Nikkei)

Kishida hopes to woo Africa away from China’s grip during tour (Japan Times)