On point: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a special session on Somalia during the fifth Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development in Yokohama on Friday as Somalia's president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (right), looks on
The Japan Times
Saturday, June 01, 2013
YOKOHAMA – Meeting on the eve of the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, African leaders discussed a number of concerns with the Somalian leader, including immediate basic security issues, as well as more mid- and long-term economic and social needs. Mohamud, in turn, identified his government’s goals: security, meeting basic human needs, good governance and foreign investment.
“First, we must provide human security in order to uphold the rule of law, restore law and order, realize justice reform and establish credible law-enforcement agencies,” he said.
Basic human needs, such as food, water, shelter, disease control for the most vulnerable people, and good governance are also key, said Mohamud, who was elected president of Somalia last September.
“And fourth and most important, we must seek economic revival by engaging the private sector and seeking direct foreign investment,” he added.
For his part, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who briefly attended the meeting, expressed cautious hope that Mohamud’s leadership brings the decades of civil war and anarchy to an end.
“Somalia has begun to take steps forward under the leadership of President Mahomud. The path ahead may not be smooth and the country faces tremendous challenges. But these challenges are also an opportunity,” Abe said.
Abe added that the stability of Somalia is not only important for the stability and prosperity of eastern Africa, but also to the rest of the world, especially given Somalia’s proximity to the vital Gulf of Aden sea route.
“Stability is also indispensable for addressing the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia and ensuring the safety of a major sea artery, one that plays a global role from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea,” Abe said.
Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia is an internationally recognized problem with no clear solution, although antipiracy measures are showing results of late. In 2012, there were 75 recorded incidents of piracy, and 14 ships were boarded. In 2011, by contrast, there were 237 incidents of piracy in the Gulf, and 28 ships were boarded.
Prior to the conference, Abe met with Mohamud for a bilateral meeting and expressed his happiness that, after over two decades, Japan and Somalia were once again strengthening relations.
Mohamud told Abe that training people in public health, security, agriculture and education was extremely important. He also called for cooperation with Japan on infrastructure projects.
On security issues, Abe noted Japan had provided $55.4 million to help train Somalia’s police force and vowed further aid.
A Foreign Ministry representative said the new aid would be generally in the form of human resource development, although to what extent it would be used for further police training, or for training and equipping Somalian forces to fight piracy, was still being discussed.