Africa-Japan Relations in the Context of Global Peace and Security: The Need for a Well-Tailored Policy

The seventh Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD VII) will be held in Yokohama, Japan from August 28 to 30, 2019. Two of the three specific agendas of the conference will directly and indirectly focus on issues of peace and security. In light of TICAD VII, therefore, it is high time to revisit Africa-Japan relations focusing on the peace and security agenda. In the last decade alone Japan has established its first-ever overseas military base in an African state, it has deployed hundreds of troops in South Sudan as part of the UN Mission in South Sudan from 2012-2017, and it has also taken part in the multilateral counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. Regardless of the above, Japan’s contribution to international peace and security is so far primarily oriented in a nonmilitary direction, although the 2015 Legislation for Peace and Security aims to broaden Japan’s engagement in other areas of international peace and security from which it has traditionally shied away from. This policy brief highlights the changes and continuities in Japan’s engagement in Africa’s peace and security. It argues that it is important for African counterparts to understand Japan’s peculiar approach to international peace and security; one that is shaped by constitutional restrictions, entrenched domestic norms and public opinions. Hence, this policy brief calls for concrete and welltailored African policies towards Japan.