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Egypt-Japan: A Spotlight on their Partnership for Sustainable Peace and Development

By Ahmed Abdel-Latif
Director General The Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA)
January 12, 2024
The year 2023 has been an important one for both Egypt and Japan as their relationship was elevated to the level of a strategic partnership, on the occasion of the visit of Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio to Egypt in April, as a culmination of a long and fruitful journey of historical relations between the two friendly countries.

During the visit, President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi and Prime Minister KISHIDA discussed ways to further strengthen the multifaceted cooperation between the two countries, which ranges from high-level political dialogue to expanding economic and trade relations, development cooperation, education, and culture.

Flagship projects such as the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) are a powerful testament to the strong ties between the two countries, and their keenness to forge a partnership that leverages heritage, innovation, technology, and education, to promote cultural dialogue and mutual understanding.

Another important facet of the relationship between Egypt and Japan lies in their shared commitment, as peace-loving countries, to strengthening international peace and security. The Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA) stands at the heart of their cooperation in this area, with a particular focus on the African continent.

Japan has been a key strategic partner of CCCPA since 2008, supporting its efforts to build the capacities of African countries to better address the myriad of complex and interconnected peace and security challenges facing the continent, in line with African priorities and ownership, and through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development’s (TICAD) New Approach for Peace and Stability in Africa (NAPSA).

Through this long-standing partnership, CCCPA, as an African Union Center of Excellence, has trained over 26,000 Egyptian and African personnel in a wide range of areas including peacekeeping; peacebuilding; preventing radicalization and extremism leading to terrorism; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; women, peace, and security; combating transnational threats; and climate, peace, and security.

In 2019, Egypt launched the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, a high-level platform that seeks to bolster the interlinkages between peace and development on the African continent. The Forum, for which CCCPA serves as its Secretariat, champions African-led solutions by strengthening the interface between policy and practice. The Aswan Forum, of which Japan is a strategic partner, has also strong synergies with the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). Both forums prioritize the need to build robust and resilient institutions to achieve sustainable peace and development, as well as advancing holistic and integrated responses that reinforce the humanitarian-development-peace nexus (HDPN).

The work of CCCPA and the contributions of the Aswan Forum have been recognized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as “good practices of South-South collaboration”. At the same time, Egypt, and Japan’s partnership towards advancing peace and development in Africa – through the work of CCCPA and the Aswan Forum – stands as a successful model of trilateral cooperation. It is in this context that I visited Japan in July 2023, with the aim of further deepening the Center’s existing partnership with Japanese authorities and stakeholders. In Tokyo, I met with senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, the Japan Peacekeeping Training and Research Center (JPC), as well as Diet members, researchers and academics. During these meetings, I witnessed first-hand the appreciation for Egypt’s role in advancing peace and stability in the Middle East and Africa, as well as for Egypt and Japan's joint efforts to promote peace and prosperity. It was also an opportunity to become better acquainted with initiatives such as the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), as well as developments relating to Japan’s defense policy, as reflected in the National Defense Strategy (NDS) launched in 2022.

I also had the opportunity to visit Hiroshima, which serves as a sobering reminder of the atrocities of war, the destruction and human suffering inflicted by nuclear weapons, and--above all--the urgency of renewing our efforts and commitment to achieving world peace. Stimulating exchanges with the heads of the Hiroshima Peacebuilders Center (HPC) and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation provided valuable insights into Japan's rich experience in post-conflict reconstruction and development, and the lessons it holds for other parts of the world. I learned about the important role of Hiroshima’s first post-war mayor, Shinzo Hamai, in rebuilding Hiroshima and cementing its status as a city of peace. The Mayors for Peace Initiative, established by his successor, is a noteworthy example of mobilizing local governments in peacebuilding efforts – which is of relevance to the deliberations of the Aswan Forum.

In addition, I got the chance to visit the port of Yokohama, which gave me a valuable first-hand insight at the importance of maritime security to Japan, a high priority to Egypt as well, given its unique strategic location, linking the Indo-Pacific to the Mediterranean and Europe, and with more than 10% of the world’s maritime trade transiting through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, with the latter grappling with a range of transnational threats and protracted conflicts.

Following on my visit, further steps were taken to strengthen the collaboration between CCCPA and Japanese institutions, particularly through greater participation of Japanese officials and experts in the delivery of the Center’s capacity building activities for African officials. Both the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Japan Peacekeeping Training and Research Center have contributed with their valuable expertise in the delivery of training courses held by CCCPA respectively in October and November on “Integrating Forced Displacement in Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)”, and “Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peace Operations.”

Building on the fruitful discussions at the roundtable on “Advancing Sustainable Peace and Development in the Red Sea” held in January 2023 in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in Cairo, CCCPA looks forward to delving deeper into identifying opportunities for trilateral cooperation to tackle the challenges discussed.

On a personal level, this trip gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in the rich cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes that Japan has to offer, from Miyajima Island to Kyoto, which has one of the largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage sites. As a fan of Japanese Manga, I was particularly delighted at the opportunity to visit the Kyoto International Manga Museum. During my trip, I was deeply touched by the warm welcome and hospitality I received and hope to return in the near future.

As CCCPA celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2024, we are excited at the prospect of further strengthening this dynamic long-term partnership with Japan that showcases the importance of international cooperation in advancing peace, progress, and prosperity.
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