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Africa Day

Japan for Africa Showcased on Africa Day

Tokyo, Japan - To the tune of Africa’s vibrant rhythms and melodies, about 100 people, more young ones than their seniors, danced around in Tokyo’s African restaurant on May 27. Commemorating Africa Day, UPF-Japan and a non-government organization Team Africa for Peace & Prosperity (TAPP) co-organized an event ‘Amazing Africa – Multi-cultural Experiences.’

Prior to the delightful drum performance by ‘Enjoy Africa,’ a six-member troupe, a Japanese female volunteer, Sachiko Mori, reported her bitter-sweet experiences in Kenya. A keynote lecture on Japan’s challenges in Africa was presented by Dr. Masahisa Hayashi, economics professor emeritus and a leading Ambassador for Peace who had witnessed the stern realities of several African countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Nigeria. He encouraged the youth to have constructive ambitions to do something for Africa, citing a message by one of the most respected Christian leaders of Japan, Kanzo Uchimura: “I for Japan, Japan for the world, the world for Christ, and All for God.”

In response, Togo’s charge d’affaires in Tokyo, H.E. Alewabia Bodjona, spoke in fluent Japanese introducing his country and a message from the African Union. Earlier, Seiichi Kikuya, Secretary General of UPF-Japan, told the audience of significant collaborations between UPF and the 54-nation African body.

The event reached its climax with the African beat resounding into souls and bodies of the youngsters. Excited and joyful, most of them admitted that this was their first-ever direct encounter with anything African.

Indeed, Japan experienced little encounter with the distant land and its people. But the Japanese government took a major turn in its African diplomacy in 1993, organizing TICAD, or Tokyo International Conference for African Development. The idea was to translate Japan’s successful development expertise in post-war Asia into the contexts of Africa. The conference takes place every five years, and the fifth is due in exactly one year.

To support such official endeavors, “We need stronger popular base of understanding and sympathy through many events like this,” said an NGO representative. Through the current struggles of recovery from the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, the whole nation has learned anew to appreciate help from others and cultivate the empathy to help others. For the youth observing Africa Day, in that respect, it was like an initiation of Japan for Africa.

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