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Deepening engagement in innovation between Japan and South Africa

H. E. Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa embarked on a working visit to Japan, from 24 to 25 August 2015. He was  accompanied by Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor; Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ms Nomaindia Mfeketo; Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Mzwandile Masina; and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, General Bheki Cele,  a South African business delegation and researchers of South Africa’s science, technology and innovation sectors.
Deputy President Ramaphosa is pictured with Mr Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

Deputy President Ramaphosa with Mr Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Japan

In his meeting with H. E. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, Deputy President Ramaphosa expressed South Africa’s desire to enhance its capacity building, human capital and vocational training as key areas of co-operation that can contribute to South Africa’s industrialisation agenda.  Over a working lunch with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mr Taro Aso, he took the opportunity to deepen co-operation between South Africa and Japan, and expressed South Africa’s goal of increasing the number of participants in Japan’s Africa Business Education (ABE) Initiative. This initiative has already accepted 45 South Africans to complete Masters Degrees in respective post-graduate studies in various universities in Japan.

Deputy President Ramaphosa and Members of the Delegation at Miraikan

Deputy President Ramaphosa addressed Keidenran, the most influential business organisation that consists of Japan’s captains of industry. In his address to Keidenran Deputy President Ramaphosa provided an update on the implementation and opportunities that exist through the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement which culminated into the Continental Free Trade Agreement in July 2015. He gave a vision of the potential market of approximately one billion people that this will offer for business opportunities on the African continent. At the South Africa-Japan Business Forum, which was jointly organised by the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in Japan and the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), Deputy President Ramaphosa stressed the need to deepen engagement in innovation. Echoing the sentiments expressed at the dialogue between South Africa and Japan on the Hydrogen economy, the Deputy President emphasized the strategic role that South Africa’s Platinum Group Metals in collaboration with Japan’s technological know-how, could play in creating new sources of energy away from fossil fuels for the world.

Deputy President Ramaphosa with ABE Initiative Students

A dialogue on Agriculture increased the momentum for co-operation in the Agriculture sector. The two countries discussed strategies to expand the current Food Value Chain Dialogue (FVC) to include fisheries and forestry. This will provide more opportunities for South Africa to export agricultural products.

A working dinner enabled the Deputy President’s engagement with members of the African Union (AU) Parliamentary Friendship Association. He promoted the idea of exchanges between the parliamentarians of the two countries to deepen friendship and co-operation. At the Japan National Press Club (JNPC), Deputy President Ramaphosa sent a clear message that South Africa is open for business and offers an environment for growth.

Highlighting science, technology and innovation as a key priority between South African and Japan, Deputy President Ramaphosa visited the Japan Museum for Innovation and Technology (Miraikan) where he met ASIMO, the humanoid robot from Honda that showed off his oral skills by greeting the Deputy President and showcasing his skill at playing soccer. The aim of robotics in Japan is to exhibit the capacity they have to assist the aging population as well as making some complex labour sectors safer for workers. Toyota launched an automobile called the MIRAI in 2015. It uses hydrogen fuel cell instead of petroleum. The Deputy President had a test drive in this futuristic car which if produced in South Africa could use platinum as a catalyst for the fuel cell, a perfect collaboration between the two countries. The working visit successfully consolidated the bilateral relations between South Africa and Japan. The key message from Deputy President Ramaphosa is South Africa is open for business. The immediate response to his call was an announcement by Keidenran, Japan’s captains of industry of their intent to send a large business delegation to South Africa in February 2016.

Deputy President Ramaphosa with Mission Officials

South African Embassy in Tokyo, Japan






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