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Last Update : Monday, Apr 4, 2016

JapanGov Weekly

[Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan] [Monday, Mar 28, 2016]

Japan-Zimbabwe Summit Meeting

On Monday March 28, 2016, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a summit meeting for approximately 75 minutes starting at around 18:20 with H.E. Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who was paying an Official Working Visit to Japan.

After the summit meeting, the two leaders signed a joint statement (PDF: ) and with the presence of the two leaders, the Exchange of Notes between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe concerning Japanese grant assistance on the Economic and Social Development Programme on infrastructure development was signed. Following this, a joint press conference by the two leaders was held. Subsequently, Prime Minister Abe and Mrs. Abe hosted a dinner, where the two leaders had a conversation on a broad range of topics related to the bilateral relationship, including activities of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and Japanese companies in Zimbabwe.
The overview of the summit meeting is as follows:

1. Opening remarks

(1) Prime Minister Abe welcomed the visit of President Mugabe as a senior African leader and longstanding friend of Japan and mentioned that Japan would like to make successful this year’s TICAD to be held in Africa for the first time with the attendance of President Mugabe and that he would like to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries taking the opportunity of this visit.

(2) In response, President Mugabe thanked Japan for the invitation to this visit, and mentioned that he would like to build on this visit to further enhance bilateral relations with Japan and that he is looking forward to participating in the coming TICAD in Africa, and to learning ethics and knowhow from Japan since he respects Japan’s experiences of development despite its lack of natural resources. He also mentioned that he expected Japan’s support to this end.

2. Bilateral relationship

(1) Prime Minister Abe announced his willingness to continue providing assistance to Zimbabwe following last year’s grant aid (approximately 1.8 billion yen). Specifically, he announced 1) a grant aid for infrastructure development amounting 600 million yen, 2) a implementation of a preparatory study for Zimbabwe-Zambia road improvement, and 3) a start of considerations on assistance to respond to the food shortages caused by drought. Prime Minister Abe requested President Mugabe to improve the business environment in Zimbabwe to promote trade and investment and expressed his willingness to expand people-to-people exchanges with Zimbabwe.

(2) In response, President Mugabe expressed appreciation to Japan for the above-mentioned support and past assistance from Japan such as human resource development and humanitarian aid. In addition President Mugabe explained Zimbabwe’s Indigenization Act in regard to the business environment.

3. The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI)

(1) Prime Minister Abe once again mentioned TICAD VI to be held in Kenya in August, and explained his intention to promote Africa’s development agenda, Agenda 2063, through the TICAD process, and to demonstrate Japan’s contribution that is distinctive to Japan, such as quality infrastructure investment and human resource development and strengthening Public-Private Partnership.

(2) In response, President Mugabe stated that he would provide whatever assistance needed for the success of TICAD VI and he hoped to discuss Agenda 2063 as Africa’s own development plan at TICAD VI expecting Japan’s supports to realize the Agenda.

4. Strengthening cooperation in the international fora

The two sides shared the view to cooperate on various issues that the international community faces, including the early realization of the United Nations Security Council reform.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Friday, Apr 1, 2016]

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreements with Viet Nam: Building infrastructure to strengthen international competitiveness and overcome vulnerabilities

On March 31, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed Japanese ODA loan agreements with the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to provide loans of up to a total of 95.167 billion yen for assistance for four projects.

Since the 1990s, Viet Nam has maintained steady economic growth (see reference 1). By 2010, Viet Nam achieved status as a lower middle-income country, which had been a national goal, and successfully reduced its poverty rate.* In a process that began last year, tariffs are being abolished in stages within the ASEAN region. In order to maintain sustainable economic growth while progressing toward the goal of industrialization by 2020 under these new circumstances, Viet Nam must make economic structural and governance organizational reforms, including improvements to the financial system and to infrastructure to improve the investment environment. Taking these steps will create mid- to long-term macroeconomic stabilization and strengthen international competitiveness. Viet Nam must also address its vulnerabilities by raising the income of rural residents who make up about 70 percent of the country’s population and have a higher poverty rate than urban regions, by improving public sanitation, which worsens with urbanization, and by alleviating and adapting to the effects of climate change.

Given this situation, these Japanese ODA loans will provide support for building the economic infrastructure essential to strengthening Viet Nam’s competitiveness, and for promoting environmental improvements to overcome the country’s vulnerabilities. The features of the four projects are summarized below.

(1) Support for economic infrastructure to strengthen international competitiveness
The North-South Expressway Construction Project (Da Nang – Quang Ngai Section) (III) will enhance the efficiency of transportation and goods distribution near Da Nang, which is a center of industry and goods distribution for central Viet Nam, and thereby meet the increase in transportation volume. The Lach Huyen Port Infrastructure Construction Project (III), which covers one project for the port and one for roads and bridges, will construct an international deep-water mega-port and related facilities in Hai Phong on the northern coast of Viet Nam, making it possible to meet the rising volume of cargo and to accommodate the larger size of vessels used in maritime transportation. The projects will promote economic development in Viet Nam and strengthen the country’s international competitiveness.

(2) Support to fight climate change toward overcoming vulnerabilities
The Support Program to Respond to Climate Change (VI) will provide support for alleviating and adapting to climate change and for solving cross-field issues through fiscal assistance and policy dialogue in Viet Nam, one of the world’s most susceptible countries to the effects of climate change.

JICA’s policy is to dynamically implement projects that address development issues in Viet Nam while coordinating JICA’s various types of assistance, which include Japanese ODA loans, technical cooperation and grant aid.

* According to the “Country Report: 15 years achieving the Viet Nam Millennium Development Goals” by the United Nations Development Programme, the poverty rate in Viet Nam dropped from 18.1 percent in 2004 to 8.4 percent in 2014.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Thursday, Mar 31, 2016]

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreement and Grant Agreements with Cambodia Supporting sustainable growth in Cambodia through infrastructure and demining support

On March 31, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an ODA loan agreement to provide up to 17.298 billion yen and grant agreements to provide up to a total of 4.715 billion yen for two projects with the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, the capital city. The ODA loan is for the National Road No. 5 Improvement Project (Prek Kdam- Thlea Ma’am Section) (II), and the grant agreements are for the Project for Rehabilitation of the Chroy Changwar Bridge and the Project for Improvement of Equipment for Demining Activities (Phase 7).
In its National Strategic Development Plan for 2014 to 2018, the Government of Cambodia has prioritized infrastructure development and landmine clearance, and the target projects of the signed agreements cover these issues by promoting infrastructure and providing demining assistance.
The features of the ODA loan project and the two grant aid projects are summarized below.

Japanese ODA Loan
(1) National Road No. 5 Improvement Project (Prek Kdam-Thlea Ma’am Section) (II)
Since internal conflict in Cambodia ended in 1991, progress has been made in repairing the transportation infrastructure of Cambodia with assistance from the international community, including Japan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Nevertheless, many areas remain where economic growth has increased the traffic demand beyond the limits of the infrastructure due to the deterioration of emergency repairs made after the conflict and inadequate road widths. An increase in the flow of domestic and international goods is expected to come with continued economic development, making repairs to existing roadways a priority. Serving not only as a trunk road for Cambodia but as a part of AH1* and the Southern Economic Corridor, National Road No. 5 is expected to function as a major industrial arterial for the Mekong region.
The National Road No. 5 Improvement Project (Prek Kdam-Thlea Ma’am Section) (II) will repair and widen National Road No. 5 between Prek Kdam and Thlea Ma’am near Phnom Penh, the capital city, where traffic is heaviest, and construct a bypass to detour around the urban areas of Kampong Chhnang and Oudong, increasing the transportation capacity and improving the transportation efficiency in the target area.

* Including AH1, the Asian Highway is a network connecting 32 countries in Asia with a total length of approximately 140,000 kilometers.

Grant Aid
(2) Project for Rehabilitation of the Chroy Changwar Bridge
Located in the north section of Phnom Penh, the Chroy Changwar Bridge was constructed in 1963 with funds that included economic and technical cooperation grant assistance based on the Japan-Cambodia Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation signed after World War II. However, part of the bridge was destroyed in an explosion during the more recent internal conflict, making the bridge impassable. Repairs for the collapsed portion were carried out with grant aid from Japan in 1992 after the conflict ended, and the bridge was renamed the Japan-Cambodia Friendship Bridge by the current king of Cambodia.
The Chroy Changwar Bridge is part of an important route for commuting and daily activities for residents in the northern part of Phnom Penh, and simultaneously plays an important part in the transportation and goods distribution network between Phnom Penh and nine provinces to the northeast where agriculture, the timber industry and related industries thrive. However, damage can be seen to the bridge shoes and girders caused by an increase in the weight of trucks that was not foreseen at the time the bridge was designed. Restrictions on large vehicles are now in place, which hinder the smooth flow of traffic.
This project will repair and improve the Chroy Changwar Bridge, located in the northern section of Phnom Penh, ensuring the safe and smooth flow of traffic and goods.

(3) Project for Improvement of Equipment for Demining Activities (Phase 7)
Since fiscal year 1998, Japan has procured equipment and provided support for demining work using that equipment to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), a public agency responsible for clearing mines in Cambodia, and Japan has also dispatched experts from Japan and provided other support for demining capacity improvement at the CMAC. With such ongoing support, the CMAC has increased the area it can demine each year from approximately 10.5 square kilometers in 2003 to about 97.3 square kilometers in 2014. The CMAC and others have therefore progressed in the clearing of landmines and unexploded bombs, and the number of deaths and people wounded due to landmines and unexploded bombs is decreasing.
Nevertheless, due to the severity of the conflict, there still remain many areas contaminated with landmines and unexploded bombs, resulting in 154 victims of explosions in 2014. Continuing the clearance of landmines is thus a priority from the perspectives of resident safety and socioeconomic development in Cambodia.
By providing the equipment and materials necessary for demining work, this project will allow the CMAC to continue making progress in Cambodia.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Friday, Apr 1, 2016]

Signing of Grant Agreement with Benin: Developing new water sources and providing water supply facilities to improve access to safe water

On March 31, 2016, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement (G/A) with the Republic of Benin to provide grant aid of up to 1.071 billion yen for assistance for the Project for Access Improvement to Drinking Water in Two Communes, Glazoue and Dassa-Zoume.

This project will develop new water resources and install water supply facilities, including water distribution pipes and elevated tanks, in two cities (Glazoue and Dassa-Zoume) in central Benin which faces the challenge of a low water supply ratio. This will expand the amount of water supplied to the target areas, contributing to a reduction in waterborne diseases and improving the living environment for residents.

In the Republic of Benin, national efforts are underway to ensure residents have access to safe drinking water and a goal was set to reach 75 percent in cities by the year 2015. However, water resources in Glazoue and Dassa-Zoume are limited, making it difficult to obtain the water required, and the water supply ratio remains low, approximately 50 percent (2013). In recent years, there have been additional challenges such as an increase in the water demand due to a rising population, and a drop in the amount of water that can be pumped due to an excessive use of existing wells, making the water supply situation worse in the target areas.

JICA has established a record of providing assistance to Benin for underground water development, rural water supply facilities and other projects through grant aid. This project will develop new water sources through the construction of deep wells and other facilities, projecting increases in the amount of the water supply of 2.4 times to Glazoue and 3.8 times to Dassa-Zoume. It is expected that the number of residents gaining access to safer water will be a total of 32,000 people in both cities. Going forward, JICA will continue to provide cooperation to improve the quality of life for residents in Benin.