Remarks by Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim on the occasion of the Commemoration of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Pretoria, Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Your Excellency
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honour and privilege to address you today, on this sombre occasion of the Commemoration of the Great East Japan earthquake that struck Japan just over a year ago. South Africa and indeed the world, has learnt a lot from the Japanese people in terms of grace and perseverance in the face of grave destruction and massive loss of lives following the March 2011 triple disaster. South Africa dispatched Rescue SA to Japan as a token of our friendship and appreciation of Japan’s ongoing efforts for the upliftment of the South African and African people.

Japan’s dignified response to the earthquake and its aftermath moved many across the world and the fact that over 150 nations offered to assist Japan is evidence of the country’s global reach and the desire of the international community to have a full partner in Japan.

Your Excellency

Our relationship with Japan is an important pillar of foreign engagement. In 2010, relations between South Africa and Japan were elevated to the level of Strategic Co-operative Partnership and Japan successfully hosted the 11th Session of the SA-Japan Partnership Forum, during which the two Foreign Ministers signed the Technical Co-operation Agreement. We hope to follow suit at the 12th Session of the SA-Japan Partnership Forum to be hosted by South Africa later this year. During the 11th Partnership Forum, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane indicated that Japan has a good track record in support of African development, and this was one of the reasons for the numerous strong expressions of condolences and solidarity with Japan from African Governments in her time of need.

Our relations cover a wide spectrum of areas; we have impressive trade and investment figures. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from Japan to South Africa reached R28 billion in 2010 alone.  The number of Japanese companies in South Africa has increased to 103, compared to 86 in 2008, creating more than 200,000 jobs. Next month, SADC Ambassadors in Tokyo would be hosting the SADC Infrastructure Investment Seminar. I would like to urge the Japanese Business Federation to participate en masse so that they could take advantage of the opportunities presented by Sub-Saharan Africa. We are increasingly getting convinced that the strategic partnership with the Japanese Government and Keidanren would help the African region to attain the much needed skills on the African continent.

Your Excellency

In spite of the triple disaster, Japan went ahead to host the TICAD Ministerial Meeting in Dakar, Senegal in May 2011, a clear reflection of Japan’s commitment to the development of the African continent and further strengthening of relations.

Japan’s engagement with Africa is holistic, incremental and consultative. At the 2nd TICAD Africa Ministerial meeting held in the Tanzania in 2010, it was agreed to integrate existing TICAD infrastructural development projects into the AU/NEPAD Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). This is the type of agreement you can only get from a partner who is committed to Africa’s development and that partner is Japan.

In January 2012, the ANC celebrated its 100th birthday. We were delighted to have the Japanese Government present to celebrate and recollect the efforts of the international community to eradicate the oppressive system, which ended in 1994 with the advent of democracy in our country. 

Your Excellency and Distinguished Guests

Let us take a moment to remember the tremendous loss of lives in the triple disaster and seek comfort in the continued resilience, grace and perseverance of the Japanese people in the reconstruction of their country.

In this spirit, let us take a minute of silence to remember those who lost their lives and whose lives were irrevocably changed this time a year ago. Let the souls of those who passed on rest in peace.

I Thank You.

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