The Deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa accompanied by a ministerial delegation, senior government officials and a trade delegation, went to Japan in August to promote South Africa as an ideal country for trade and foreign direct investment. South Africa is currently facing the highest level of unemployment since the apartheid era; the visit was primarily an effort from the South African government to reduce the high level of unemployment in the country. The economy of South Africa has declined therefore innovative and fresh ideas to grow the economy are needed.
Consequently, the main reason for the South African visit to Japan was to assure the Japanese business sector that South Africa is open for business and that the country is business tolerant, especially of businesses that can create more jobs for South Africans.
Other reasons for the visit were to address issues concerning the African Agenda such as; the consolidation of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), to reassure Japan that South Africa is open to addressing and accomplishing global issues of mutual concern, to partner with Japan to promote science and technology and to also gain assurances from Japan to partner with South Africa to fight diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Malaria.
The outcome of the visit to Japan was positive because Japan heard South Africa’s voice and has committed itself to assisting South Africa boost its economy by helping South Africa attain its developmental goals and Japanese companies contributing to South Africa’s economy. For example, by the end of 2016, Japan wants to have transferred engineering skills to more than 100 students and help develop artisans from South Africa.
South Africa held the Third Japan Seminar in Johannesburg on the 22nd of September 2015 which was co-hosted by the Japanese embassy, the Japan External Trade Organization and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Africa. The seminar was attended by South Africans and Japanese businessmen/women who are willing to start their businesses in South Africa. They were addressed by the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who expressed gratitude for Japan’s cooperation to South Africa’s development. The deputy president also emphasized the importance of Japan as a trade partner and that Japan does not only offer trade but it also helps South Africa reach high levels of expertise and competence. From the Japanese side, the Chair of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industries in South Africa, Sachio Kaneki, highlighted that Japan is ready to assist South Africa to deal with its economic challenges.
After the recent xenophobic attacks which were inflicted on foreigners who were supposedly taking jobs from South Africans. It will be very interesting to see how the South African business sector will react to this new development. It will also be interesting to see if Japan will understand South Africa’s social challenges.
The partnership between South Africa and Japan is indeed exciting and has the potential to yield positive results for South African citizens. The South African government can only be commended for the effort that it is making into addressing the decline of the economy and the high level of unemployment through international partnerships.