politics

Japan's push to secure African resources sputters, helping China

26 Comments
By Yuka Obayashi

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26 Comments
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There is always a reason and the reason is always not Japans. Japan is playing second fiddle to China and gradually sliding into obscurity. Unfortunately the Japanese can't smell the coffee.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Being "resource-poor" depends on what kind of resources are actually available for exploitation, at what cost, and how the society and political economy is structured with respect to those resources. If you make a society that is heavily reliant on overseas resources then you can claim to be resource-poor. But it is to some large extent a choice. It also has ideological benefits to describe yourself as resource poor since the only alternative seems to be to import raw materials, work hard to add value and then sell on the finished articles. Does it remind us of somewhere?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The nanny state at work again....coddling major corporates.

If the private sector cant be bothered to acquire those resources, then so be it. They've just reported record earnings and profits. it's not like they lack the financial resources.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

and if/when some of those African countries start nationalising resources controlled by Chinese companies, the Chinese army/navy will show up ...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It appears to me the government under PM Abe is blindly imitating US policy at the urging of US to compete in many things China does. That is a bad policy because :

(1) The US has borrowed over $18000 billion, over 100% of its GDP, starting wars, competing with Russia, China and other countries. Many parts of its govt will be shut down if it fails to borrow enough to fund the hundreds of billions of dollars in budget deficit every year. Its government has already shut down before when the Congress failed to raise its debt ceiling.

(2) Borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars every year from foreign countries by the US is a bad role model for Japan.

(3) There are millions of poor and middle-class Japanese, including some of you, who need government help in paying for food, education, medical care, retirement, old-age care, etc.

(4) Many of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Fukushima disaster are still waiting for "enough government help and compensation" to rebuild their lives.

(5) The govt has already wasted thousands of billions of yen in bribing foreign countries to vote for the failed bid to get permanent membership at the UN Security Council, in competing with China for influence, etc.

(6) Japan's external debt is over 240% of its GDP and is increasing by hundreds of billions of yen every year.

(7) Foreign investments should be made only if they satisfy certain criteria for profitability, safety, etc, and not for the sake of competing with China for influence, etc.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

If Japan wants Africa's resources, it's 10 years behind the power curve. Japan is so risk-adverse it's no surprise they are falling behind on seizing opportunities.

I like that the Chinese take a very long-term view of things. Everyone else looks at Africa and sees chaos and instability. The Chinese looked at it, saw opportunity, and recognized that they could work through the rough patches to set their country up for success for the whole 21st century.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The fund raiser Bob Geldof, who has considerable knowledge of the situation in Africa, spoke at a financial conference in Japan more than 10 years ago that China was already gathering influence and resources in Africa, and speculated that was where the future wars would be, over resources. In the mean time, Japan was developing dancing robots - Asimo,

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sometimes businesse is not just about exchanging cash and commodities, human interaction may be very vital in some societies. This is where the Japanese really suck,.They know this innately, thus resorting to having African front men doing their bidding. This in itself isn't bad but sometimes being visible matters, a NO-NO for the gaijin sensitive and feisty Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Noble713 agreed , commodity price wont stay low forever and when they rise trying to source them from Africa will only be more difficult since China has been doing it aggressively for the last 10yrs

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cogito Ergo Sum

I guess that is why many Africans consider Japanese as family while Chinese as mere friends(that has money).

The grass root efforts that Japanese NGO and agricultural aids developed trust between Japan and various African countries.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hi.. thanks for sharing this article and giving me the information about The nanny state at work again..coddling major corporate. If the private sector cant be bothered to acquire those resources, then so be it.and

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yamiko Otokawa san, I sincerely salute you. After reading some of the comments you made, I find you are one of very few Japanese want real peace.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Triring. Africans don't need fake " Family ".few of them( Japanese NGOs) come to Africa to " help" Africans, but when a few Africans come to Japan, they're hated ,picked upon and despised. Family? Myfoot!!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The Chinese and Japanese seem to have opposite approaches to risk. The Chinese certainly seem to willing to take more of it. If that works out for them in the end, all power to them,

Low-risk approaches definitely lack that "vitality", and can be downright plodding when competing with the likes of the Chinese in markets where investment is wanted immediately.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Africa would be a big risk for investment ---politically and economically unstable---as it has been since the dawn of time!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@seadog

Study some African history. Not just colonial stuff.

You might learn something.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Cogito Ergo Sum

Unlike PRC which sends people as well as material, Japan sends only instructors to hire and teach local people so they can at the end obtain economic independence. Result is with PRC only a handful of corrupt bureaucrats becomes wealthy while Japan leaves numerous well trained locals which can produce their own product which up heave the economy as a whole.

Something Japan did for mainland China more then 30 years ago which became the basis of PRC economy.

Fake family?

No Japan provides real help digging wells and plant forests so they can stand on their own two feet even after Japan leaves. (I believe Deng Xiaoping said something similar as words of gratitude towards Japan back in the 80's) That is why Japanese are considered family.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Commodities are by definition standard exchangeable ressources. How can you secure supply outside of the normal exchange market? Plain and simple: corruption!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Triring. . A panegyrist Japan really talks big. Japan was till recently worlds 2nd biggest economy, did almost nothing to help Africa, except for token humanitarian work. Along comes Chin doing massive projects, things which REALLY uplift and empower the people. Japan is moving in frenetically just to dislodge China. Japan had both the gold,the Katana and the knowledge, but it was imprisoned by its own unfounded fears .e.g. Loss of technology to others, instabilities e.t.c. They are still welcome, Africa is open for business. By the way, Japan didn't help China that much, I KNOW.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan needs to create a bridge between the japanese nation and the rest of the world/communities, harmony, trust and confidence in the mutual relation, but unfortunately it is the otherway round in Japan, without good relation on the soil of japan as well as internationally, the Japanese investor will feel shy, doubtful and hesitant which will be a walkover for china and other country. the more you late the more you go down.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan is much much better off than USA financially. Look at the facts below:____JapanUSA__ 2014 external debt, billion US$__10460180000_World Bank__ 2013 foreign reserves, billion US$_____1267_145__CIA_____ 2014 current account,billion US$____+31__-386__CIA____ USA can learn from Japan how to manage its finances. Japan can pay for commodities like oil, gas, etc, with cash. China lost money on its investments on tar sands projects in Canada, etc. Japanese companies should invest in resource projects only if the projects meet their criteria for profits, safety, etc. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2187rank.html https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2188rank.html

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Cogito Ergo Sum

Along comes Chin doing massive projects, things which REALLY uplift and empower the people.

You mean the corrupt, the people on the otherhand obtains very little with PRC sending in swarms of workers setting up your very own China town so the local economy gains zero. Once finished the net sum is minus due to all the junk that the locals have to clear up.

The only empowerment PRC leaves is the people motivated to oust the corrupt officials that the PRC lining their sleeves so they turn a blind eye at all the ecological disaster PRC had committed.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Triring. Corruption is not only a Chinese vice. It takes two to tango. Japanese companies and parastatals do it too, JICA comes to mind ,with its white elephant projects in Kenya, Indonesia e.t.c. If you want to talk about family then Chinese are family to Africans. They stuck wit Africans during fights for liberation, providing arms,logistical and financial support, at this time , as usual ,the Japanese were content with sitting at the high table so the RACIST regime of. Apartheid South Africa. Yes, Chinese companies can be just as rapacious, but they undertook big risky projects which no other countries wanted. They won not only the trust of Africans, they won everything. The road networks they are building can be counted as their most beneficial, for the massive multiplier effect they cause.

Yes, they bring in cheap stuff to Africa, which are affordable to everybody. In Japan, despitebbadmouthing China ,Chinese imports litter your store ,from Daiso to S err v

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cogito Ergo Sum

They stuck wit Africans during fights for liberation, providing arms,logistical and financial support, at this time

This is rich coming from a nation that declared that they will deal with any nation regardless of how they govern within their borders which means PRC will deal with any scum dictators of the world including ISIS.

Naw Japan would rather fold then working with nations that does not value human life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Triring

I'm not doubting your word for a minute, but do you have a link to Chinese statement saying they'd deal with any regime?

It's something of an important point....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Triring. Japan would rather fold then work with nations that does not value human life."

Historically Japan valued NOT human life, The extermination and deracination of the Ainu, the genocide in China, the enslaving of the Koreans, the murders in Singapore, Phillipines and Indonesia. Japanese valued human life, as some of us value cows or pigs, VALUE nonetheless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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