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Q & A with Khamis Bol : Japan's Commitment to the Global South

By Khamis Bol
Local Coordinator and Coach with UNITAR coordinating training programs in South Sudan
December 22, 2023
What prompted you to participate in JICA's "SDGs Global Leader" program and what kind of activities did you do there?
I first visited Japan in August 2019 to attend UNITAR’s training on entrepreneurship and leadership. After I experienced the atmosphere in Hiroshima, I decided that I should come back and pursue my post-graduate studies and that’s exactly what happened. I applied to Hiroshima University graduate school of Humanities and Social Sciences, where I did a master’s in international Peace and Coexistence from April 2021 to March 2023. During my studies at Hiroshima University, I participated in many extra curriculum activities study tours organized by the school, JICA, and my academic advisor. In November 2021, I had a chance to deliver a speech to the Japanese audience at Peace Talks organized by Hiroshima International Center in Hiroshima City. In July 2022, I joined ANT-HIROSHIMA, a grassroots organization working on peace, during my internship I met with the Atomic Bomb survivors locally known as Hibakusha. I was moved by their stories which had some things in common like optimism and calling for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.

Based on your own experience with JICA, what do you think are the characteristics and the strengths of Japan's international cooperation?
Integrating JICA scholars with the local communities in Japan is one of the great outcomes that students can get because is part of building bridges and long-term connections. Another thing is the internship with local companies and institutions, for example, the seven months I spent during my internship I was able to understand more about Japanese culture which I believe is one of the aims of the JICA scholarship.

Wooden JICA logo

Prime Minister Kishida visited four African countries and pledged about $500 million (around ¥68.7 billion) in financial support to Africa over the next three years to promote peace and stability on the continent. He also insists that Japan and Africa are "partners growing together" and "on equal footing," rather than a relationship of aid-giving and aid-receiving countries. What does this mean and is it effective for Africa?
I believe the partnership approach is the best help African countries develop because during the process both sides can share their experience which is more helpful to Africa in the long run.

In light of last year's TICAD 8, what kind of relationship do you think Japan and Africa should build?
As I mentioned in the previous section, partnership and mutual benefit is the best option for both Japan and Africa. I believe thousands of African students from various fields have graduated from Japanese universities and high institutions which means those alumni can play a great role in bringing Japan and Africa closer. In the next ten to twenty years, those alumni will contribute positively to the relationships of the country of rising sun and Africa.

Map of Africa

This year, the G7 Hiroshima Summit was held, and the “Global South” became a hot topic. How would you evaluate the current relationship between Japan and the Global South and what kind of assistance do you think would be most effective from Japan to address major issues such as the food crisis?
To evaluate the current relationship between Japan and the Global South, we must consider some aspects such as trade and investment, aid and development assistance, diplomatic relations, cultural and educational exchange, and investment in the agricultural sector, particularly infrastructure in the Global South. Currently United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in collaboration with the Japanese government is implementing a six-month training on Food Security targeting more than seventy South Sudanese. Such an opportunity will enable it to be a self-sufficient and food-producing country in the future, which is also considered as addressing the food crisis in the Global South. Currently, I am the local coordinator for UNITAR, and I will be helping in the implantation of this project in South Sudan. This program will run until March 2023.

Looking back on TICAD and this year's summit, how would you rate it overall and how should Japan engage relations with the Global South in the future?
The idea of organizing the TICAD Summit outside Japan will strengthen the relationship between Japan and Africa. Another thing is that the financial cost is cheaper than taking African delegates to Japan because they are accommodated in the continent. People to People Diplomacy is one of the most reliable and fastest channels of strengthening the relationship between countries. In 2019 during the TICAD Summit in Yokohama, I participated in a side event, and I have seen hundreds of participants, mostly African travel to Japan.

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