Japan joins race for Africa’s resources

Japan is spending over $5 million to host this week’s summit and Mr. Fukuda has vowed to meet personally with each African leader in attendance.

The race to lock up African resources and markets has its critics.

Economists warn that the exclusive trade and supply deals represent a new mercantilism in which Asia’s big rivals essentially bribe their way to economic security at the expense of the global trading system.

Human rights group say that the mass summits ease the pressure on repressive governments and major rights violators such as Sudan and Zimbabwe. Both will attend the Yokohama summit, although authoritarian Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will not head his country’s delegation.

And some development specialists warn that the modern “Great Game” is creating new classes of haves and have-nots on the world’s poorest continent, as those countries without energy or valuable natural resources fall farther behind.

“If Africa does not move to solidify its collective bargaining, then summit diplomacy will adversely affect an individual nation´s leverage as ‘new oil powers’ emerge to hog international interest,” according to a new analysis by Elijah N. Munyi, development researcher for the Korea Institute for Development Strategy in Seoul.

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