Brics Financial Media

Japan and South Africa
by Kirtan Bhana

Thulani Gcabashe (Chairman Hive Hydrogen SA) and Shinya Ishizuka (CEO ITOCHU Africa Bloc) sign the Memorandum of Cooperation witnessed by Ambassador of Japan Ushio Shigeru (top right) and Baphelele Mhlaba (Chief Of Staff at the Office of the Premier – Eastern Cape) - Hive

4 March 2024

His Majesty Naruhito the Emperor of Japan celebrates his 64th Birthday this year. He was born on February 23rd. This day is also commemorated as Japan’s National Day. In Pretoria, South Africa, Japan’s Ambassador to South Africa Ushio Shigeru hosted a reception at the Embassy of Japan to mark this event.

“South Africa’s victory at the Rugby World Cup was particularly impressive, and I was moved by the way South Africans united around the team for their 4th win at the tournament. Currently, about 40 of South Africa’s best rugby players are active in various Japanese teams, greatly enhancing Japan’s rugby league. The intense games played by South African players are widely covered in Japan, exciting many Japanese people,” said Ambassador Ushio as he welcomed the guests attending the celebration.

South African Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Bernice Swarts, and Ambassador Ushio Shigeru at the reception  (photo: TDS)

Both the the Deputy Minister Bernice Swarts, of Public Works and Infrastructure for South Africa and Ambassador Ushio Shigeru acknowledged the long standing relations between the countries that began over 100 years ago and have stood the test time of and continue to deepen and strengthen.

TICAD (The Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development) was the first summit of its kind that brought together the countries on the African continent to a summit in Japan's Capital Tokyo in 1993. The 8th TICAD was hosted in Tunis, Tunisia in 2022 and the 9th will be hosted in Japan in 2025. TICAD is a significant contributor to accelerating Africa’s integration through Agenda 2063 and Africa’s free trade area, AfCFTA, which is rapidly gaining momentum. 

“Strong economic relations exist between Japan and South Africa. South Africa is an important base for Japanese companies in developing business in Africa. More than 160 Japanese companies have offices in South Africa and create about 150 thousand jobs.

"Last September, a Memorandum of Cooperation on Hydrogen and Ammonia was signed between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan and the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa in Tokyo. This Memorandum reconfirmed that our two countries have a shared interest to cooperate and create synergies in the field of hydrogen and ammonia, including science, technology, innovation, and investment.  Following the conclusion of this MoC, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Itochu Cooperation of Japan and Hive Hydrogen of South Africa last December in Coega, Eastern Cape, and I had the honour of witnessing the conclusion. Based on this MoU, further cooperation and job creation is expected to take place,” said Ambassador Ushio.

Representatives from the Japanese Business Federation (Keidanren) also visited South Africa in February to gather more information on growth and the economic strategy in Africa with a special focus on Ethiopia and South Africa.

In January the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched and landed the Smart Lander Investigating the Moon – SLIM. Advancements in navigation technology has made pinpoint landing possible for future exploration. Analysing the lunar surface will help understand the origins of this celestial body and provide greater analysis of the composition of the moon through the lenses of the multi band spectral camera.

“One of the top priorities of Japanese diplomacy is the realization of a 'Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)'. As you might know, the concept of FOIP was first publicly announced at TICAD 6 held in Kenya in 2016. I think this fact shows how much importance Japan attaches to the stability and prosperity of Africa for the entire Indo-Pacific region. I am aware that South Africa is a leading member of IORA and promoting freedom of navigation, blue economy, trade and investment in the Indian Ocean. I believe Japan can be a partner for South Africa to realize this agenda,” said Ambassador Ushio.

As is customary when celebrating his Majesty's Birthday, Japanese food was served on the auspicious occasion together with Sake, a traditional Japanese drink, Japanese Gin, Japanese Wine and Japanese Whisky which was first introduced to Japan by a Scotsman 150 years ago.

A powerful Karate Kata performance, one of the most traditional martial arts in Japan, by the Japan Shotokan Karate Association, known as JSKA SA, led by Mr Soon Pretorius, was performed in the gardens of the Embassy.


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