Wide Angle

TICAD : Japan reiterates its position on «SADR» and reassures Morocco

While Yokohama is expected to host the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Summit from August 28-30, Japan reiterated its position regarding the presence of the «SADR». The meeting will, in fact, be attended by the Polisario front’s representatives.

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Japan is between the devil and the blue sea, trying to host the 7th edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), without affecting diplomatic ties with Morocco. Interviewed by Morocco’s official news agency, the Director general for Middle East and North Africa at the Japanese foreign ministry, Ambassador Katsuhiko Takahashi, reiterated, on Sunday in Tokyo, his country's non-recognition of «SADR» and lauded the important role of Morocco in the MENA region.

Takahashi said that Japan does not recognize «Western Sahara» as a State. «This is Japan’s longstanding and unwavering position, and Japan has no intention to change this position», the diplomat said, adding that his country «believes that this issue should be settled in a peaceful manner through dialogue between the parties concerned».

The diplomat’s statement comes as the Japanese government is organizing the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, jointly with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program, the African Union Commission and the World Bank.

Japan's position recalled three times

The event is an appointment in which the Polisario front intends to take part. In June, the separatist movement participated in the preparatory meetings of the summit, organized by the African Union (AU) and the Japanese government in Addis Ababa.

This is the third time Japan reassures Morocco of its position on the Western Sahara issue. In the aftermath of the TICAD meeting in August 2017 in Maputo, Mozambique, during which supporters of the Polisario front had tried to prevent Morocco from participating, the head of the Japanese diplomacy had promised his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita to prevent this situation from happening again. He said then that Japan «does not recognize SADR».

But his promise to «rectify» an organizational error was ultimately not met. It is also because of this presence that Morocco had decided to leave the summit held in October 2018 in Tokyo. At the time, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taro Kono, reacted by reassuring Morocco.

On a working visit to Morocco last December, he reiterated his country's position on the territorial dispute, assuring that the presence of the Polisario «does not in any way mean that Japan recognizes, implicitly or explicitly», this group as a State.

It is clear that Japan no longer promises Morocco not to invite members of the Polisario. The country of the Rising Sun, with limited diplomacy, is bowing to the persistence of some African countries supporting the Polisario and their determination to invite Brahim Ghali's supporters to the round tables of every meeting involving the African Union.

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