Prime Minister Shinzo Abe renewed Japan’s commitment to supporting Somalia’s nation-building efforts Friday, saying Tokyo will resume direct aid to the East African nation which is seeking to revive its economy and government following 22 years of civil strife and political turmoil.
At a special meeting in Yokohama dedicated to discussing issues confronting Somalia, Abe said Japan’s new assistance to the country will focus on enhancing its socio-economic conditions, maintaining law and order there, and invigorating the country’s fragile industries.
“The stability of Somalia is important for the stability and prosperity of East Africa and indispensible for solving Somalia’s piracy problem fundamentally and ensuring the safety of one of the world’s major maritime arteries, which connects the Indian Ocean with the Red and Mediterranean seas,” Abe told participants.
The one-day meeting, which was held on the sidelines of a summit-level meeting of leaders mostly from Africa on the continent’s development from Saturday through Monday, also drew such dignitaries as Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamud and Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Program.
Noting that Japan has already pledged the disbursement of $55.4 million in aid to Somalia through various international organizations, Abe said his country has also decided to resume direct aid to the country in a bid to “contribute to Somalia’s nation- building in earnest.”
Japan will also help create employment for young Somalis by nurturing fisheries and other industries in Somalia, with the hope of invigorating bilateral trade and investment in the future, he added.
Earlier Friday, Abe also held talks with Mohamud in the Japanese port city.
In Somalia, which descended into civil war in 1991, a new government was finally established when Mohamud was installed as the country’s president in September last year.
He is the first Somali leader to attend the Africa development meeting, known as the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which began 20 years ago and is co-hosted by Japan and international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank.