Opinion| Egypt-Japan: A spotlight on their partnership for sustainable peace and development

Ahmed Abdel-Latif
7 Min Read

In 2023, Egypt and Japan celebrated a milestone in their historical relations, as they upgraded their relationship to a strategic partnership. This was marked by the visit of Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio to Egypt in April, where he met with President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and discussed various aspects of their multifaceted cooperation.

The two countries have collaborated on several flagship projects that showcase their strong ties and their mutual interest in promoting cultural dialogue and mutual understanding. These include the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST), which combine heritage, innovation, technology, and education.

Egypt and Japan also share a common vision of strengthening international peace and security, especially in Africa. The Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Peacebuilding (CCCPA) is a key partner of Japan in this field, as it supports the capacity building of African countries to address the complex and interrelated peace and security challenges facing the continent. This is done in accordance with African priorities and ownership, and through the framework of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development’s (TICAD) New Approach for Peace and Stability in Africa (NAPSA).

Since 2008, Japan has supported CCCPA, an African Union Center of Excellence, to train over 26,000 Egyptian and African personnel in areas such as 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 aims to enhance the linkages between peace and development in Africa. The Forum, which is supported by Japan, advocates for African-led solutions by bridging the gap between policy and practice. The Aswan Forum and the TICAD have strong synergies, as they both emphasize the need to build resilient and robust institutions for sustainable peace and development and to adopt integrated responses that address the humanitarian-development-peace nexus (HDPN).

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has recognized the work of CCCPA and the contributions of the Aswan Forum as “good practices of South-South collaboration”. Moreover, the partnership between Egypt and Japan in advancing peace and development in Africa – through the work of CCCPA and the Aswan Forum – is a successful example of trilateral cooperation.

I visited Japan in July 2023, to further strengthen the Center’s partnership with Japanese authorities and stakeholders.

In Tokyo, I met with senior officials from various Japanese institutions, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, JICA, the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, and the JPC, as well as Diet members, researchers, and academics. I was impressed by their appreciation for Egypt’s role in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East and Africa, and for our joint efforts to foster peace and prosperity. I also learned more about Japan’s initiatives, such as the FOIP, and its defense policy, as outlined in the NDS launched in 2022.

I visited Hiroshima, which reminded me of the horrors of war, the devastation caused by nuclear weapons, and the need to work for world peace. I had fruitful exchanges with the heads of the HPC and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, who shared Japan’s experience and lessons in post-conflict reconstruction and development. I learned about the role of Hiroshima’s first post-war mayor, Shinzo Hamai, in rebuilding the city and making it a symbol of peace. The Mayors for Peace Initiative, started by his successor, is a remarkable example of engaging local governments in peacebuilding efforts, which is relevant to the Aswan Forum.

I also visited the port of Yokohama, which showed me the importance of maritime security to Japan, a priority that Egypt shares, given its strategic location, linking the Indo-Pacific to the Mediterranean and Europe. More than 10% of the world’s maritime trade passes through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, which face various threats and conflicts.

After my visit, we took further steps to enhance the collaboration between CCCPA and Japanese institutions, especially by involving more Japanese officials and experts in the Center’s capacity-building activities for African officials. JICA and the JPC provided their expertise in the training courses held by CCCPA in October and November on “Integrating Forced Displacement in PCRD” and “Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peace Operations”.

Building on the productive discussions at the roundtable on “Advancing Sustainable Peace and Development in the Red Sea” held in January 2023 with the Embassy of Japan in Cairo, CCCPA is eager to explore more opportunities for trilateral cooperation to address the challenges identified.

On a personal level, this trip was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the rich culture and beautiful scenery of Japan, from Miyajima Island to Kyoto, which has many UNESCO World Heritage sites. As a fan of Japanese Manga, I was thrilled to visit the Kyoto International Manga Museum. I was deeply moved by the warm hospitality I received and I hope to go back soon.

As CCCPA celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2024, we look forward to strengthening this dynamic and long-term partnership with Japan that demonstrates the value of international cooperation in advancing peace, progress, and prosperity.

Ambassador Ahmed Abdel-Latif, Director General of the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Peacebuilding (CCCPA)

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