Yokohama, Japan’s ‘Closest City to Africa’

BY: Dominic Moses Awiah
Some journalists being briefed about the city during the 2018 Ministerial Meeting on TICAD
Some journalists being briefed about the city during the 2018 Ministerial Meeting on TICAD

Yokohama will from August 28 to 30 next year, host the seventh Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD7) in Japan.

TICAD is an international conference on Africa’s development led by the government of Japan in cooperation with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, and the African Union Commission.

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It will be the third time for Yokohama to host TICAD after it hosted the event in 2008 and 2013.

Visits

From September 30 to October 9, this year, 11 journalists from different countries were invited by the Japanese Foreign Ministry to participate in the 2018 TICAD Ministerial Meeting.


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The meeting, which was attended by government ministers from 52 countries and international organisations was aimed at reviewing the progress of commitment and priorities set out in TICAD VI which was held in 2016 in Kenya.

The conference also discussed the directions and possible priorities for TICAD VII scheduled for August, 2019 at Yokohama in Japan.

Journalists that attended the conference were from Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Egypt, Uganda, Mauritius, Senegal and France.

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During the visit, a team from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs led journalists to visit a number of Japanese institutions, including Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) and Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), to learn about their projects in Africa.

The interactions with the officials from JICA and JETRO afforded journalists the chance to ask questions about Japan’s relations with Africa. For instance, at JETRO, the Executive Vice President of the organisation, Mr Katsumi Hirano, touched on various ways the Japanese government was supporting Africa.

He mentioned that during the previous TICAD in Kenya, the Japanese government announced a $ 30 billion support for various programmes in Africa.

The investment, he said, went into different sectors, particularly infrastructure, waste management and the health sector.

After several visits in Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, the team from Japan Foreign Ministry took the journalists to visit Yokohama City, specifically Pacifico Yokohama where the 2019 TICAD would take place.

Yokohama

Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan with 3.7 million residents.

Yokohama attracts a great number of tourists both from Japan and overseas because of its beautiful port and historical sites that have accommodated cultures from around the world.

One of the amazing places in Yokohama is the “Pacifico Yokohama”. It is one of the largest convention complexes in the world equipped with all the functions required for any type of convention such as meetings, incentive conventions, exhibitions and events.

The beautiful exterior, designed to bring to mind ocean waves, wind and sunlight, has become new symbol of the historic and the cosmopolitan city of Yokohama. All of its world-class facilities expand the possibilities for conventions.

The convenient location and the superb surroundings of water and greenery create a pleasurable environment for conventions with a total support system provided by the most up-to-date facilities and experienced staff.

The centre, built with an estimated 110 billion Japanese Yen (almost one billion dollars), rakes in twice the amount as revenue annually.

Africa’s town

In Yokohama City, every aspect of the Japanese culture is geared towards connecting with Africa. This includes the One school, One country project, where selected elementary schools are taught African culture in relation to food, beliefs and attire.

Inhabitants of Yokohama know so much about Africa and the way they receive Africans makes one to think “he or she is home”.

On the development agenda, Yokohama has been working with African countries to find solutions to problems, particularly those related to water supply, harbour logistics and waste management by sharing the experience and expertise it has gained in the process of overcoming its own urbanisation problems.

Most African institutions visit the city to learn about how the country addresses its development challenges, especially in the waste management sector.

There is also an exchange programme for African and Yokohama businesswomen organised annually for female entrepreneurs to discuss possible ways of enhancing trade among them.

Delivering her presentation at the launch of TICAD7, the Mayor of Yokohama, Ms Fumiko Hayashi, said the city was ready and prepared to host the conference.