News analysis

Japan can work with rival China in Africa, say experts

It has lost ground in tussle for influence on continent but there is room for cooperation

Japan's marquee Africa summit closed last Friday with continental leaders declaring for the first time that they "take good note" of their host's Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spelt out at their last meeting in Nairobi three years ago.

But this tentative language in the 13-page declaration - as opposed to stronger terms like "support" - underscores how much ground Japan has lost in its strategic rivalry with China for influence in Africa as their priorities shift to business investment from development aid.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2019, with the headline 'Japan can work with rival China in Africa, say experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe