Remarks by International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim on the conclusion of the 12th Partnership Forum Meeting with Japan, Pretoria, 1 March 2013

I warmly welcome His Excellency Mr Masaji Matsuyama, Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan and his delegation to the OR Tambo Building, the Head Office of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa.

My counterpart and I co-chaired the 12th meeting of the South Africa - Japan Partnership Forum. The meeting took place within the ambit of the 1998 Joint Communiqué establishing a guideline on the context and structure of South Africa’s bilateral relationship with Japan. 

The main objectives of the meeting were the following:

  • To review the scope of bilateral relations;
  • To encourage greater Japanese investment in South Africa in business ventures which create jobs and promote the transfer of skills;
  • To reassure the Government of Japan that the business environment in South Africa is vibrant and conducive to increased trade and investment by Japanese companies;
  • To redefine and refocus on the priority areas of bilateral co-operation in order to maximise existing opportunities;
  • To reaffirm the excellent relations and friendship that exist between South Africa and Japan; and
  • To discuss multilateral issues of mutual interest.

2010 marked the 100th year since the establishment of official contact between South Africa and Japan. In the same year, during the meeting between Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and her then counterpart, Minister Okada, both countries agreed to elevate the relationship to a “Strategic Cooperation partnership.”

Trade and investment form the backbone of relations between the two countries. However, the relationship has not only shown significant growth and extensive development in trade and investment, but also in the development of human networks and in the promotion of academic and business interaction. The Gordon Institute for Business Sciences at the University of Pretoria currently hosts the Centre for Japanese Studies, and our own academic institutions have embarked on an intensive programme to establish interaction with renowned Japanese academic institutions in the fields of science and technology, research and development etc. 

Structured bilateral meetings are important to ensure that partner countries regularly review the scope of their relationship and identify new areas of cooperation. For this reason, the meeting of the Partnership Forum plays an important part in further strengthening and deepening the bilateral relationship between South Africa and Japan.

Our Senior Officials from various partner Departments met yesterday (28 February) to discuss areas of mutual interest and cooperation at the technical level and to prepare action plans for future joint action. This afternoon the meeting will receive feedback from the co-chairs of the respective working groups.

During my meeting with my counterpart this morning we discussed areas of mutual interest and cooperation. This includes:

  • Expanding the scope of our bilateral relations, including cooperation at international level; 
  • Trade relations, especially cooperation in key sectors of the economy;
  • The African Agenda: We discussed Japan’s contribution to Africa through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Process during the past 20 years. South Africa is to provide input for the TICAD V meeting which Japan will host in June 2013 in Yokohama;
  • President Zuma’s envisaged visit to Japan following TICAD V: We also discussed a possible visit by President Zuma to Japan following the conclusion of the TICAD meeting in June;
  • Natural Disasters: We also expressed our support for Japan as they approach the second anniversary of the unfortunate natural disaster that took place on March 11 in 2011. It may be recalled that South Africa dispatched a search and rescue team led by Rescue South Africa, to assist with the relief efforts, a gesture that the Government of Japan and its people still appreciate very much.

To conclude, I am satisfied with the progress made during our bilateral meeting today. The relationship between South Africa and Japan has been re-invigorated and further strengthened and Ilook forward to a productive period of concrete cooperation ahead.

I now invite Senior Vice Minister Matsuyama to address the media.


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