Japan will pledge to assist Africa to double rice production on the continent in response to the global food crisis propelled by Russia's war in Ukraine, according to a draft aid package to be unveiled at an African development conference in late August.
Japan will also urge African countries to ensure transparency when they raise funds for development in light of China's so-called debt-trap diplomacy toward developing countries, says the draft, a copy of which was made available on Thursday.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will represent Japan at the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD8, slated for Aug. 27 and 28 in Tunisia.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is also considering attending the gathering, according to government sources.
In the meeting, Japan plans to dispel views in Africa, apparently influenced by Russia, that the food crisis was triggered by sanctions the Group of Seven industrialized nations imposed on Moscow.
The TICAD meeting will be held as concerns about food security have grown in Africa and the Middle East, regions that are highly dependent on grain imports from Ukraine, a major agricultural producer.
Japan and other G-7 members -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, plus the European Union -- have condemned Russia for destroying agricultural infrastructure in Ukraine and blockading its Black Sea ports, a development that has seen shipments of crops such as wheat and corn blocked.
Russia, for its part, has blamed the food shortages on Western sanctions. The G-7 countries are wary about some African nations buying Moscow's argument and even calling for an easing of sanctions.
According to the draft, Japan will extend food aid to African countries in the short term and help them boost food production capabilities in the longer-term.
Japan will also assist African countries to train experts in fiscal management and development finance so that recipient states will not be saddled with massive Chinese loans they cannot repay.
Tokyo will also pledge to facilitate investment in start-up businesses and renewable energy in Africa and assist local efforts to promote coronavirus vaccines.