Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatima Hajaig at 9th South Africa – Japan Partnership Forum

Your Excellency Madame Hashimoto, Senior Vice Minister of Japan, their Excellencies Ambassadors Akimoto, Ozawa, Grobler and Matjila, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of the South African delegation, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Japanese Government for hosting this 9th session of the Japan - South Africa Partnership Forum in Tokyo and for your warm hospitality in receiving the delegation.

Our bilateral relationship is solid and vibrant. This Forum takes place at an opportune time to chart the way forward for the coming year.

The aim of the Forum has been to establish a formal framework for high-level contacts and discussions between our two countries to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral co-operation and increase dialogue over a wide range of issues.   The discussions provide important guidance to our senior officials on future programmes, in order to further expand and deepen our co-operation. 

Since its inception in 1998, the Forum has had several successful meetings. In December 2006, Foreign Ministers Aso of Japan and Dlamini Zuma of South Africa agreed to restore the Forum to Ministerial level, as envisaged in the original Joint Communique. Due to scheduling problems Minister Dlamini Zuma could not visit Japan on this occasion, but South Africa remains fully committed to maintaining the level of the Forum at Ministerial level, as well as to ensuring that its decisions are successfully and systematically implemented.

The high level working visit to Japan, in April 2006, by the former South African Deputy President and six Ministers mobilised strong support for ASGISA/JIPSA objectives.  In response, the Japanese Foreign Ministry established a JIPSA Working Group which engages Japanese stakeholders across the spectrum of government, business, academia and civil society in support of skills development.  We now need to fully explore the further co-operation in sharing skills and best practices in other fields, including energy, technology, productivity and human capital development. 

The second pillar of our relationship has been the Japan-South Africa Business Forum which is led by the Keidanren and Business Leadership South Africa. The Business Forum held a meeting in Tokyo during October 2008 which, I am informed,  was very positive.  We look forward to a further expansion of trade and investment as well as a further diversification of the products that South Africa exports to Japan, to include more manufactured and value-added items.  Naturally, we expect the current economic downturn to impact on our trade, notably in critical sectors such as automotive industry. We should, therefore, continue to maximise our trade relationship through new endeavours. In this regard, South Africa would like to continue to be a reliable provider of mineral resources to Japan, but wish to expand this relationship to include investment which would aim to beneficiate such resources in South Africa.

South Africa, through its support for NEPAD and the African Union, supports the view that there can be no peace and security without sustainable development in and of Africa, and vice versa.  We believe that Japan, too, through its initiatives as regards human security, supports this viewpoint.  In order to eradicate poverty and create an environment conducive to peace, security and sustainable development, it is necessary that African countries be assisted in their development needs.  In this regard 2008 was significant, with Japan hosting both the TICAD IV conference and the G8 summit and making commitments for considerable ODA and other assistance to Africa. I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Japan for ensuring that addressing the needs of Africa remained an international priority at both these meetings. This clearly demonstrates Japan’s commitment and bona fides as regards to honouring its TICAD IV promises addressing Africa’s problems.

However, the global financial crisis and consequent economic slowdown are extremely troubling. The exports of many developing countries have been seriously impacted while in many cases their currencies have fallen dramatically too. Falling commodity prices are also having an impact on growth in many countries in Africa.  They, therefore, desperately need generous support to help them through a difficult adjustment period.  

We have with great interest taken note of the recent trilateral Summit in East Asia, that took place in December 2008, and look forward to hear more about the outcomes of the Summit.

Japan has successfully used its “One Village One Product” programme to build capacity and create jobs. I believe that this initiative can be equally important to South Africa and we look forward to further exchanges on this matter.

The Japan-South Africa Development Co-operation is an institutionalised long-term commitment between our two countries and South Africa is committed not only to continue this relationship after our elections in 2009, but to further strengthen, broaden and deepen these relations.

South Africa and Japan have both been vocal advocates for climate change globally and we are committed to continue to discuss and share our views with Japan on the matter.

The Japan-South Africa Science and Technology relationship is growing from strength to strength and we look forward to receive you at the end of February for the Joint Science and Technology meeting.
  
South Africa would like to see a strengthening of people-to-people contacts with Japan as well as raise the image of what our country can offer to the world.  In this regard, further and systematic development of our cultural and sporting contacts would be most appropriate, while the 2010 Soccer World Cup presents many opportunities for enhancing our mutual interactions and visibility.

In order to expedite the exchange of Japanese Experts for critical areas in the South African economy, my Government would like to see finalisation of the text of the draft Technical Co-operation Agreement between our two Governments, as a matter of priority.  Our approach to this matter is to ensure that the JICA Office in South Africa and its Staff, receive the same treatment as accorded to other institutions of similar nature.

I also trust that our discussions could explore increased focus on possible trilateral co-operation ventures and wish to convey that South African Government Departments indicated substantial interest to expend such co-operation in areas such as Science and Technology, Policing, Agriculture etc.

In conclusion, the year 2010 is a historic one in our bilateral relations. It marks the 100th Anniversary of official contact between our two countries. We therefore look forward to exchanging ideas on how to celebrate this important milestone in our official relationship which could include exchanges at the highest political level.

I thank you.

CLOSING REMARKS BY DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS FATIMA HAJAIG AT 9th SOUTH AFRICA – JAPAN PARTNERSHIP FORUM

Your Excellency Madame Hashimoto, Senior Vice Minister of Japan, their Excellencies Ambassadors Akimoto, Ozawa, Grobler and Matjila, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The 9th session of the Japan - South Africa Partnership Forum held here in Tokyo, has proven to be very fruitful and our two countries have confirmed once again our solid and vibrant strategic partnership. The wide-ranging discussions during the Forum have, succeeded in expanding and deepening our bilateral and multilateral co-operation. The outcomes of this meeting will provide important guidance and direction to our senior officials on future programmes and priorities.

I would suggest that a joint action plan is prepared as soon as possible enabling us to track progress in our many areas of cooperation.  This will also allow us to report progress in a more systematic and efficient manner at the next partnership forum.

Your Excellency, we have touched on many topics over the last two days, please permit me in conclusion to highlight some of the more strategic issues which we have deliberated on and which require further joint action. 

I am particularly grateful to Japan for reiterating and confirming your commitment regarding peacekeeping and security in Africa and that this will amongst others be high on your agenda when committing resources to Africa.  In this regard South Africa would like to see Japan continue and increase its financial contribution to the AU and other regional structures dealing with peace and security in Africa.

We both share the view for the urgent reform of the United Nations as a whole and the Security Council specifically.  In this regard we agree to have further consultations at senior official level. South Africa strongly welcomes Japans commitment to advance global peace and security during its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.  

Given the dire consequences and impact of the current global financial crisis on the well being of the peoples of the world, this matter and our respective and joint response to the crisis was given serious attention during our deliberations.

We would like to thank you for your unwavering commitment to double your ODA to Africa by 2012 and double your private sector investment to Africa in accordance with your TICAD IV commitments.  We are in agreement that Africa’s challenges can only be overcome if it is a partnership between Africa and development  partners. 

South Africa looks forward to the TICAD IV ministerial follow-up meeting in Gaborone at the end of March 2009 to review progress in the implementation of TICAD.  As agreed this will be an important meeting to exchange views on the impact and remedies of the global financial crisis.  South Africa supports and welcomes Japans intention to add its voice to that of South Africa in presenting the collective view of Africa on the global financial crisis at the G20 meeting in London, beginning of April 2009.

Your Excellency, the role of the major developing countries in the G20 has to be reconsidered.  Given the fact that the management and oversight of the international financial architecture can no longer efficiently be dealt with in isolation by the developed world, groupings such as IBSA is advocating for a more fair and equitable dispensation.  Japan could play an important role in this regard.

Your Excellency, there are many more issues of global and African interest that I could remark on, but I would also like to make a few comments on our very fruitful bilateral discussions.

I have been informed by my working committee team members that the discussions were extremely successful.

I am especially heartened by the fact that both sides have agreed to continue to expand and deepen their respective relationships.

These include cooperation in areas such as science and technology, arts, culture and sport, tourism, policing, education, health, and trade and industry.

All these areas of cooperation will be further enhanced by the conclusion of the Technical Co-operation Agreement, on which we have made substantial progress. I want to thank our respective experts for their flexibility to bring closure to this long-outstanding matter.

On a personal note, I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make our stay as memorable as possible. I have thoroughly enjoyed your kind hospitality and gastronomy and I am looking forward to the visit to Kyoto, which I know is regarded as the cultural capital of Japan and is a World Heritage site.

Finally, I am looking forward to receiving you at the next Partnership Forum meeting, scheduled to take place in November this year, in Pretoria. By that time, Japan would, undoubtedly, have qualified for the 2010 World Cup and your delegation will have the opportunity to personally experience our warm hospitality.

I thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

27 January 2009

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