Address by President Jacob Zuma to the Japan National Press Club, Tokyo, 4 June 2013

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Members of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I bring to you all, the warmest greetings from South Africa.

I am deeply grateful to the Japan National Press Club, for providing this opportunity.

We also wish to thank the Government of Japan and His Excellency Prime Minister Abe for the kind hospitality accorded to myself and the members of the South African delegation. I am sure I echo the sentiments of my delegation when I say to you that we have enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Japanese people!

Your city is at the centre of world finance, which makes it an honour to be hosted here this week.

We have visited Japan to attend the Fifth Summit of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) and also to strengthen bilateral relations between South Africa and Japan.

Later on I will speak on TICAD and bilateral relations between South Africa and Japan.

At this juncture I request your indulgence to relate to you what you already know, but which we convey largely for emphasis.

In 1994 South Africa managed to forge a constitutional democracy from the ashes of apartheid.

Today South Africa is a constitutional democracy under the rule of law. Ours is a growing economy. It is an open economy.

The infrastructure is in good shape and continues to expand in all sectors to cover previously excluded areas of our country. There is universal recognition of the fact that the macro-economy and the economic fundamentals are sound.

South Africa is politically stable, and plays an ever-growing role in Africa and among the countries of the developing world through its membership of BRICS and the India Brazil South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue process to advance the goals of democracy, human rights, economic development, science and technology; peace and prosperity.

We have seen rampant inflation tamed. Our currency has weathered the hurricanes that hit the developed economies so savagely. We experience growing financial stability, despite distressing financial crises elsewhere. We are working tirelessly to overcome our social, health and other problems, both inherited and new. And we shall continue with all this work - as we did, against the odds, in forging our democracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

In 2010, we launched the New Growth Path (NGP) framework and identified its main objectives as infrastructure development; tourism; agriculture; mining; manufacturing and the green economy.

The Government works closely with business people, labour and provincial and local government in every province regardless of political affiliation to realise the objectives of the NGP.

In 2012 the Government of South Africa proposed a massive infrastructure development initiative that is driven and overseen by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), which has identified and developed projects and infrastructure initiatives for State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) as well as national, provincial and local Government departments. PICC has developed an infrastructure plan with 17 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), covering more than 150 specific infrastructure interventions.

These cover all the key platforms: rail, road and port; dams, irrigation systems and sanitation; new energy generation plants; transmission lines and distribution of electricity to households; communication and broadband infrastructure; social infrastructure in the form of hospitals, schools and universities, as well as regional infrastructure.

Since 2009 the South African Government has spent about R860 billion on infrastructure.

Distinguished Guests,

Another programme initiated by my Government is the National Development Plan (NDP), which tackles the issue of poverty elimination and inequality in South Africa. We prescribed higher growth and job creation as the key in reducing and ultimately eradicating poverty and inequality. The NDP is the high-level blueprint or national roadmap to achieving the goals of eradicating poverty and inequality in South Africa. It aims to treble the size of the economy so that by 2030, 11 million more work opportunities are created. As of this year, all Government programmes and plans will be aligned to the NDP with an emphasis on implementation.

In April 2013 we announced the latest Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), 2012/13 – 2014/15 which will focus on growing our manufacturing base and the size of our economy. South Africa has positioned itself as a manufacturing centre of excellence and has diversified its industrial sectors. However, there is an absolute need for South Africa to export more high value-added manufactured goods and services so that additional good quality jobs can be created and additional South Africans can be drawn into the economic net.

The IPAP will explore new sectors such as the green economy and energy-saving industries. We will all scale up our interventions in the automotive sector and concentrate of developing sectors with the potential for long-term advanced capabilities: nuclear; advanced materials; aerospace; defence; electro technical and ICT.

Distinguished Guests,

With these plans we shall continue resolutely to engage the huge challenges that South Africa faces. Japan is an important and inspiring example for South Africa on how to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to become one of the leading economies in the world. The impressive lesson that is found amongst the Japanese people - the sheer energy, industry, innovation and resilience has on numerous occasions, helped to build and rebuild this country from setbacks, including the destructions and ruins of the natural disaster of 2011.

With regard to South Africa itself, I would also be amiss if I did not recognise the impressive contribution to job creation and skills transfer by the Japanese private sector and the Government of Japan. Of great importance in this regard are the continuously expanding economic relations between our two countries.

Japan is among South Africa’s top three export destinations in the world. 

Bilateral ties between South Africa and Japan are multifaceted. Japanese companies provide skills development training and advancement to their South African employees; and transfer technology to South Africa. In 2011, total trade was R89.9 billion; South African exports to Japan were R55.6 billion, and Japanese imports from South Africa were R33.3 billion. South Africa enjoyed a trade surplus of R21.3 billion. Japan is South Africa’s largest trade partner after China and the US.

Total Japanese investment in South Africa in December 2010 was R36.7 billion: foreign direct investment R19.3 billion; portfolio investment R12 billion; and other investments of R5.5 billion (SA Reserve Bank). We welcome Japanese investments into South Africa. As Government, we have noted that there is an increase in the number of Japanese companies that are investing in South Africa, with major investments in the auto-motive sector, ICT, renewable energy and mining.

On the other hand South Africa’s investments in Japan are also expanding; South African companies that have invested in Japan include Naspers and De Beers. We are very keen to expand these critically important economic relations.

In an effort to further expand economic relations with Japan, the South African Government through the Department of Trade and Industry and the Government of Japan through the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) have undertaken a Joint Study on Economic Cooperation focusing on three sectors namely; automotive, mineral beneficiation and agro processing.

The main objective of the study is to look at how Japanese technology and expertise could be drawn in to advance South Africa’s industrial development. The study also reviews the current and projected economic cooperation between the two countries to identifying key collaborative programmes to be undertaken.

We urge Japan to take advantage of the investment opportunities that exist in our country, to access our domestic market, a significant part of sub-Saharan Africa and the markets of the world, as many companies are already doing from South Africa.

The industrialisation of the South African economy will be driven by many factors; the most key is science, technology and innovation. The innovative nature of Japanese technology is world famous. South Africa is to co-host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope in partnership with Australia and eight other African countries. I urge interested Japanese companies, academic and scientific institutions to become involved in this exciting project.

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

South Africa and Japan hold common views on a broad range of international issues, including the central role of the United Nations in international affairs and the importance of reforming the United Nations system.

We respect international law and promoting the resolution of conflict through diplomacy and negotiation. Both our nations make an important contribution to peacekeeping as well as post-conflict reconstruction and development, especially in Africa.

Our strategic co-operation is required in post-conflict reconstruction and the development of South Sudan, given the difficult situation and the many priorities of Africa’s newest country. We share the view that development, especially in Africa, needs to remain at the top of the international agenda.

Japan’s consistent and tangible support for reconstruction and development projects in Africa, deserves special mention. Your commitment to the development of Africa is further demonstrated by the important initiatives through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process, which was initiated in 1993 and is a valuable platform to engage on developmental issues.

In this regard, we wish to thank Japan for its on-going support on key issues that South Africa holds dear.

I am very pleased to say that the deployment of your economic power has become an engine for change, for an expanding prosperity and for the success of the economic development project in Africa.

Yet, we are also certain that Japan cannot play that role successfully if it does not act in partnership with countries in Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we conclude this visit, we do so with a strong sense of optimism. As our relations continue to grow in many areas, the role of business, academic institutions, Government, and sport in providing strategic direction is likely to become more and more important. I mention sport, as I was reliably informed that Japan is poaching some of our rugby players! A development which we welcome as it increases people-to-people contact and will lead to more Japanese tourists visiting South Africa!

I am confident that all of you will reflect the high value we place on our strong, friendly and growing relations.

Allow me a final word of gratitude to the moderator and the Japan National Press Club for organising this event.

Thank you.





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