Japan has decided to resume its Yen loan facility to Ghana, beginning with the funding of the construction of a bridge spanning the Volta River on the Eastern Corridor road.
The decision by Japan to resume the facility was the outcome of talks held between President John Dramani Mahama and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo yesterday.
Mr Mahama is in Japan on an official visit.
The Yen loan portfolio is a bilateral and concessional facility which Japan extends to developing countries.
Japan withdrew the facility in the early 2000s when Ghana adopted the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
Speaking at a joint news conference after the meeting, President Mahama expressed appreciation to Japan for agreeing to fund the bridge project, which would be very critical in improving transportation between the northern and the southern parts of Ghana.
He also thanked Prime Minister Shinzo for signing a contract for expansion works on the Sekondi Fishing Harbour.
The talks between the two leaders also led to the signing of two other agreements: one for the construction of an advanced medical research centre at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) in Accra and the other for the extension of scholarships to Ghanaian students.
President Mahama described the meeting with Mr Shinzo as fruitful.
“I held fruitful discussions with Prime Minister Abe and we have agreed to continue with our collaboration in areas such as health care, infrastructure development and economic cooperation,” he said.
He said the relations between Ghana and Japan were based on very strong historical factors, especially the role Dr Hideyo Noguchi played in sacrificing his life during his research into yellow fever in Ghana.
He thanked Mr Shinzo and the people of Japan for the very warm welcome accorded him and his delegation and added, “I believe that this visit will move the relations between our two countries to an even higher level.”
President Mahama expressed the hope that the agreements signed in Tokyo would go a very long way to advance the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
He gave an assurance that Ghana would remain an active participant in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process which he described as a very important framework for cooperation between Japan and Africa.
He said Ghana would cooperate with Japan for reforms at the UN Security Council.
“In this regard, Ghana, at the next African Union (AU) Summit will do everything possible to get the AU on board to push for the reforms,” he added.
Ghana’s development important
For his part, Prime Minister Abe said the bridge on the Volta River would not only improve the environment and promote socio-economic activities in Ghana but also serve neighbouring countries.
He said the socio-economic development of Ghana had a strong bearing on building a strong foundation for the development of West Africa.
Consequently, he promised that Japan would continue to support Ghana’s development efforts.
The Prime Minister stated that as Kenya was set to be the first African country to host TICAD this year, which President Mahama had promised to attend, “we are determined to provide robust support for the development of Africa”.
The TICAD summit is held every five years to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and their development partners.
Tracing the historic relations between Ghana and Japan, Prime Minister Abe said when Ghana gained independence in 1957, Japan immediately established diplomatic ties with the country.
“Since then, we have been nurturing a very friendly relationship,” he added.
He said Japan and Ghana shared common values, including freedom, democracy and human rights.
He promised to continue to collaborate with President Mahama on pushing for reforms of the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile, President Mahama yesterday paid a courtesy call on Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo at the beginning of his official visit to Japan.
The President was accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs Lordina Mahama.
Born on December 23, 1933 to Emperor Hirohito and Empress Nagako, Emperor Akihito ascended the throne in 1989 on the death of his father.
The Emperor does not have any political power in the Japanese constitutional monarchy, but one of the major roles of the Imperial Family is to preserve traditions.
Described as a living symbol of “Japaneseness,” the Emperor symbolises the unity of Japan.