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Japan, Africa confirm importance of maritime rules, eyeing China

Japanese and African foreign ministers confirmed on Friday the
importance of adhering to maritime rules based on international law,
as Tokyo has been closely eyeing China's recent rise across the globe.

The ministers wrapped up a two-day meeting of a Tokyo-led
African development conference in the capital of Mozambique, after
adopting a chair's statement specifying the confirmation. Japan was
one of the chairs of the gathering, which also included the United
Nations.

At the Tokyo International Conference on African Development or
TICAD in Maputo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said maintaining
maritime order based on the principles of international law such as
freedom of navigation is necessary for world peace, stability and
prosperity.

Japan will "work earnestly to strengthen the connectivity
between Asia and Africa," Kono said during the meeting, according to
a Japanese official.

Kono also said he promised African nations that Tokyo will make
efforts to boost economic growth in Africa, emphasizing that TICAD is
playing a key role in regional developments.

In recent years, China has been seeking to expand infrastructure
networks in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa to achieve its
goal of connecting countries along the ancient Silk Road more
closely, under the "One Belt and One Road" initiative.

Some analysts, however, are skeptical about Beijing's
transparency for its financing.

At the gathering, Japan and African nations also exchanged views
on the fight against terrorism, and technology transfer.

On Thursday, a person from Western Sahara, who was not invited
by Japan, tried to enter the meeting room and scuffled with a
Moroccan official. No one was injured.

The Japanese government has not recognized Western Sahara as a
country, as it has taken into account Morocco's claims of sovereignty
over the disputed territory.

The latest ministerial meeting came as preparation for the next
TICAD summit to be held in Yokohama in 2019. The summit was launched
by the Japanese government in 1993.