What does Japan see in Zimbabwe?



Relations between Zimbabwe and Japan have been warming up of late raising the crucial question: What does Japan see in Zimbabwe?

Though there have been strong relations between the two countries for decades with the government-owned Willowvale Motor Industries assembling Japanese vehicles, the relations seem to have been rekindled following the signing of mega deals between China and Zimbabwe.

The two Asian countries are rivals.

According to The Diplomat Japan’s outreach to Zimbabwe strategically benefits Japan in two main ways.

“First, Abe(Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe)  can use a closer partnership with Zimbabwe as a springboard for expanding Japan’s network of allies in sub-Saharan Africa. As an added bonus, by providing Zimbabwe with much-needed foreign capital, Tokyo can gain economic leverage over one of Beijing’s closest African allies.

“Second, Zimbabwe is a long-standing ally of North Korea. Closer Harare-Tokyo ties could convince Mugabe to break off relations with Pyongyang, a move that would further isolate Kim Jong-un’s increasingly belligerent regime.”

The Diplomat says Abe’s diplomatic outreach to Zimbabwe benefits Japan’s economy and increases Tokyo’s geopolitical influence in three main ways.

“First, despite widespread international criticisms of Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian policies and handling of Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation crisis, Mugabe is respected by many African leaders for his role in liberating Zimbabwe from white minority rule in 1980. Abe’s praise of Mugabe as an “iconic” leader and as the “most revered patriarch of Africa” in late March, was a veiled appeal to African leaders who admire Mugabe for his steadfast resistance to Western neo-colonialism.

Continued next page


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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