Japan and China’s Summit Competition in Africa

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (far R), Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono (2nd R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (3RD R) attend a special conference on peace and stability in the horn of Africa during the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, 29 August 2019. Image: Getty, JIJI PRESS/AFP

Japan and China play a dual role in Africa. Firstly, they both have direct relationships with Africa, as two of the continent’s most important development partners.


  • Japan and China’s relationship with Africa is shaped through ‘Africa Plus One’ summits.
  • TICAD and FOCAC have fed into Japan and China’s engagement with Africa in the G20.
  • China played a key role in focusing the G20 more on development; a move shaped by its interaction with Africa.
  • TICAD 7 showed that Japan’s cooperation with Africa is increasingly driven by the private sector.
  • The 2019 G20 summit showed how Japan uses stipulations on quality infrastructure as a way to address Chinese influence in Africa.
  • The competing visions of BRI and FOIP both require African participation and show how strategic calculations lead to closer alignment between G20 and Africa Plus One summits.
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