Nigeria established diplomatic ties, at ambassadorial level, with Japan in 1964, and since then bilateral cooperation between the two countries has been growing steadily until the 1990s when there was a downturn in the trade and commercial exchanges between the two countries.
The emergence of democratic governance and the reforms in the economic, financial and investment sectors of the economy however recently led to an upsurge in the number of Japanese businessmen doing business in Nigeria. This is manifested in the pattern of the balance of trade which tilted towards Japan up to 2001 and towards Nigeria from between 2002-2006 especially with the former’s increased purchase of crude oil and petroleum products from Nigeria.
The Nigeria- Japan relations reached a crescendo when on 12th January, 2001 Prime Minister Mori of Japan visited Nigeria. The visit was the first by any Japanese Head of Government to Sub-Saharan Africa since the end of the Second World War. President Olusegun Obasanjo had earlier visited Japan on assumption of office in 1999. In May 2009, the senior officials of the Japanese and Nigerian Foreign Ministries met under the Japan-Nigeria Special Partnership Programme to discuss mutually beneficial array of issues. Three Special Partnership meetings have been held in the past between the two countries. In addition, in June 2009 the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister visited Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Foreign Minister to discuss issues of mutual benefits. Since the upsurge in business and economic relations, there has also been exchange of visits by the trade, business and investment commissions of both countries.
Japan has over the years promoted an active cooperation with Nigeria in the educational and technical fields, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which sponsors educational exchange programmes, builds schools and offers grants to scholars for specific studies in Japan. JICA, which has office in Abuja, has also helped Nigeria in the field of rural electrification and agricultural projects, such as rice production and milling in Edo and Imo States. The grants in aid are being used for the improvement of education, rural development and health care delivery - rural electrification, solar energy development, construction of additional classrooms for the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Program, the treatment and eradication of killer diseases like; malaria, polio, VVF, HIV/AIDS, guinea worm, etc.
The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was launched by Japan in 1993 as an International Forum designed to refocus the attention of the international community on Africa’s developmental issues and to mobilize for its support. The essence was to promote the building of bridges between Asia and Africa; and to provide a platform through which the Asian experience, in all aspects, could be harnessed and applied for the benefit of African development. There has been TICAD I – III held in Tokyo at different times, while TICAD IV was held in Yokohama last May 27 – 31, 2008. The Japanese Government pledged during the Conference to provide up to US$ 4 billion of soft loans to Africa to help increase momentum for infrastructure improvement. In addition, Japan promised to double the disbursements of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa in five years.
Presently, Marubeni Corporation of Japan is involved in the development of the country’s energy sector. The Corporation rehabilitated the Egbin Thermal Station in Lagos and is still very much engaged in other power projects in Nigeria. Other Companies like the Chubu Electric and Mitsubishi Company of Japan are also involved in power projects in Nigeria.
Embassy of Nigeria,