Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that Japan supports the idea of the African Union becoming a permanent member of the Group of 20 major economies after he talked with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Tokyo.
Kishida's remarks came after U.S. President Joe Biden made a similar commitment last week with Washington on becoming more willing to strengthen relations with Africa amid its rivalry with China. The Senegalese president chairs the African Union this year.
"In light of the expanding role of African countries in the international community in recent years, Japan has been keen to reinforce ties with Africa," Kishida said at a joint press conference with Sall. The Senegalese president said he appreciated Kishida's proposal.
The two leaders, meanwhile, agreed to work together on oil and natural gas development projects in Senegal, with a view to implementing measures to encourage more Japanese companies to invest in the western African nation.
Kishida also promised that Japan will offer up to 10 billion yen ($73.5 million) in low-interest loans to the education sector in Senegal and up to 15.42 billion yen in grant aid aimed at helping the African country boost exports of its fishery products.
Tokyo has been seeking to deepen relations with the 55-member African Union as the Asian nation will serve as a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council for two years since next January.
Japan has co-hosted an international meeting on African development, called TICAD, every three years since 2013. Before that, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development had taken place every five years following its launch in 1993.