Felex Share in Tokyo, Japan
President Robert Mugabe’s official visit here marks the beginning of earnest economic cooperation between Japan and Zimbabwe in 15 years, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said yesterday.
He said apart from clinching key economic agreements, President Mugabe had taken the opportunity to clarify the government’s indigenisation and economic empowerment policies.
The development, he said, saw Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreeing to seal economic deals with Zimbabwe on a number of areas, beginning with road infrastructure development.
This comes as President Mugabe continued with his visit yesterday meeting captains of industry and government agencies, many of whom agreed to co-operate with Zimbabwe.
The development flies in the face of private media reports which tried to demean President Mugabe’s trip saying it had only brought a $5 million grant.
“Japan has agreed to fund road infrastructure development on the Zimbabwe north-south corridor with PM Abe undertaking to fund the project among other key economic areas of cooperation agreed on.
“The President has had the opportunity to have extensive and detailed discussions with Prime Minister Abe covering both bilateral and international issues and the engagements have brought desired fruits and benefits,” Minister Mumbengegwi said.
“Definitely the visit has facilitated the strengthening of our relations and every party is happy after 15 years of not really engaging, although there hadn’t been any sanctions. The Japanese have earnestly decided to engage Zimbabwe effectively in terms of economic issues and they’re encouraging more companies to invest in Zimbabwe.”
He said in every meeting he had with possible investors, President Mugabe clarified the indigenisation policy.
“He briefed everyone on the efforts being done to enhance the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe and clarified the indigenisation policy. The clarification was well understood and appreciated and we’re confident that we should be seeing more companies, even those in the private sector, heading to Zimbabwe.
“President Mugabe has met many companies during this visit and follow ups are to be made to concretise everything and they’re now convinced Zimbabwe has created an environment for businesses to operate.”
President Mugabe yesterday met Shinichi Kitaoka who is the president of the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA).
JICA is an organisation that co-ordinates official development assistance for the government of Japan which last year injected $15 million for the development of an irrigation scheme in Manicaland.
Speaking after the meeting, Kitaoka said: “We discussed a number of issues and we’ve just restarted and we’ve a grant to support road infrastructure in Zimbabwe and irrigation schemes. We hope this will contribute much to agriculture and economic development in Zimbabwe.”
Earlier on President Mugabe had met leaders of the Houses of Councillors and Representatives, Japan’s legislature.
The parties agreed to have exchanges between their parliamentarians.
“After your first summit meeting with PM Abe, which brought results by confirming a wide range of co-operation and strengthened our relationship bilaterally, we believe the engagements shouldn’t be economic only but should see exchanges between parliamentarians following,” said Masaaki Yamazaki, president of the House of Councillors.
President Mugabe responded: “On a visit of this nature, we not only discuss bilateral issues of cooperation and the need to be assisted in terms of our transformation socio-economically but we also learn a lot about your system, what your House of Councillors has by way of functions and how this relate to government as a whole.”
Today, the President winds up his stay in Tokyo in the morning with a meeting with the African Diplomatic Community before leaving for Kyoto, Japan’s cultural city.
He will take part in a programme hosted by Kyoto Prefectural Government and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce.