Japan-Africa Relations

By Nagao, Masafumi | African Studies Review, September 2014 | Go to article overview

Japan-Africa Relations


Nagao, Masafumi, African Studies Review


ECONOMICS AND DEVELOPMENT Tukumbi Lumumba-Kasongo. Japan-Africa Relations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. xv + 277 pp. List of tables. References. Index. $100.00. Cloth.

Japan-Africa Relationsby T. Lumumba-Kasongo is a scholarly treatise on the relatively little studied topic of economic and political interactions between Japan and Africa. The book's declared focus is on Japan's policy of economic cooperation with Africa, but the analytical approach is comprehensive, combining the theory of international relations and political economy to show how Japan-Africa relations evolved within the dynamic context of international power relations and global markets in the postwar world. The discussion is thorough, covering not only the connections between Japan's domestic political and economic situation and its international policy stance, but also the role it plays in Africa's changing development contexts, especially under globally forced structural adjustment. We are reminded, for example, thatjapan was the only industrialized country to participate in the Bandung Conference of 1955, which gave rise to the Non-Aligned Movement. The result is a book with twelve solidly written chapters, each of which may be read as an independent paper.

According to the author, the relationship between Japan and Africa is not a "natural" one based on geographical proximity or historical links, like those of Africa with Western Europe, nor does it fit well into the stereotyped West European paradigms of neocolonial control and top-down partnership. Japan-Africa relations, though relatively new, are more complex and dynamic. Part of this complexity springs from the ambiguity characterizing Japan's policy of cooperation, which includes a humanitarian component backed by Japan's "peace" constitution along with an economic determination to promote Japanese business interests. These relations came to acquire a more dynamic nature in the late 1980s with the emergence of Japan as an economic power and a major aid donor, raising the expectation of African states for increased economic cooperation and allowing Japan to undertake a "soft power" initiative. Lumumba-Kasongo points out the special political significance of Japan's Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), a Japanese-African summit begun in 1993 and taking place every five years with the goal of solidifyingJapan-Africa cooperation. …

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