The Washington Post - 29.08.2019

(Joyce) #1

THURSDAY, AUGUST 29 , 2019. THE WASHINGTON POST EZ SU A


BY SIMON DENYER


yokohama, japan — With a
jealous eye on China’s growing
influence, Japan is renewing its
vows to Africa.
Japanese Prime Minister Shin-
zo Abe told African leaders gath-
ered here for a summit on
Wednesday that his government
was determined to step up its
engagement with the continent.
But with a rapidly aging popu-
lation and a huge debt burden of
its own, Japan won’t be writing
any blank checks for overseas de-
velopment aid anytime soon. It
knows it cannot compete with
China’s deep pockets.
Instead, Abe hopes to harness
Japan’s private sector, vowing to
raise investment beyond the
$20 billion that he said had
flowed from Japan to Africa over
the past three years.
“I make this pledge to you: The
government of Japan will put
forth every possible effort so that
the power of Japanese private
investment, of $20 billion in three
years, should in the years to come
be surpassed anew from one day
to the next,” he said. “We will do
whatever it takes to assist the
advancement of Japanese compa-
nies into Africa.”
To s ome extent, Japan is hoping
to exploit a growing sense in Afri-
ca that putting all of one’s eggs in
Beijing’s basket is not entirely
wise.
Rather than competing direct-
ly, it has tried to differentiate itself
from China by stressing the quali-
ty of the infrastructure it can
build in Africa.
As concerns rise about Chinese
state-to-state lending pushing Af-
rican countries further into debt,
Japan has stressed financial sus-
tainability and private-sector
partnerships that don’t raise gov-
ernment borrowing.
Where China brings its own
workers across to build infra-
structure, Japan says it employs
locals and transfers technology to
Africa, just as it has done across
Asia.
That’s the theory. The problem
in practice is that poor countries
with huge infrastructure deficits
often do not feel they can afford to
pay for quality, while Japanese
corporations are not exactly
bursting with enthusiasm for Af-
rica, officials admit.
Corporate Japan — notoriously
cautious in its decision-making —
sees significant risks and relative-
ly unattractive returns in Africa’s


small and often fragmented mar-
kets, said Razia Khan, chief Africa
economist for Standard Char-
tered Bank.
Japan’s t rade with Africa, at $ 17
billion in 2018, is half what it was
in 2008 and a fraction of China’s
more than $200 billion, official
figures show.
“It’s obvious with Japan’s de-
clining budgets they don’t have
the ODA [overseas development
assistance] capacity to just be
tossing out money, s o they went to
these public-private partner-
ships,” said J. Berkshire Miller, a
senior visiting fellow with the
Japan Institute of International
Affairs. “But the key question is
whether the private sector can
sustain this, and I think that’s
challenging.”
To address that challenge, Abe
pledged “limitless support” for
investment, innovation, enter-
prise and entrepreneurship — by
partnering with local financial in-
stitutions to establish a new trade
insurance plan, for example.
He highlighted a Japanese sat-
ellite monitoring crop harvest
and water r esources in Rwanda, a
Japanese business executive em-
ploying single mothers and for-
mer child soldiers to make color-
ful bags in Uganda, and a Japa-
nese company laying the first un-
dersea cable connecting Angola
with Brazil.
He also highlighted Japan’s
contribution to supporting health
care and education in Africa, as
well as cleaning cities of waste
and clearing land of mines, while
also announcing a project to train
police officers, judges and pros-
ecutors.
In return, Abe wants African
support for an old idea and a new
one.
The old one is reform of the
United Nations Security Council
to allow more permanent mem-
bers, “a common cause for Africa
and Japan that still awaits a reso-

lution,” he said.
The new one is support for
Japan’s idea of a Free and Open
Indo-Pacific, uniting the region
behind the principles of free trade
and freedom of navigation, the
rule of law, a nd the market e cono-
my, and meant partly as a counter
to China’s Belt and Road Initia-
tive.
Abe said he wanted to work
with the continent “to safeguard
the Indo-Pacific, which connects
Africa and Japan, with great care,
as an international public good
permeated by the rule of law.”
Miller said Japan was being
careful not to frame the Indo-Pa-
cific idea as a direct challenge to
China, rebranding it as a “vision”
rather than a “strategy,” and talk-
ing more about quality infrastruc-
ture than maritime security.
That’s partly because it realizes
African states do not want to be
forced to choose between Japan
and China, he said.
Abe spoke at t he opening of the
seventh To kyo International Con-
ference on African Development,
known as TICAD, an event held
every three years, and on this
occasion staged in the port city of
Yokohama, just south of the capi-
tal.
Khan says African nations wel-
come the idea of Japanese invest-
ment and see the advantage of not
being “too reliant on one eco-
nomic partner” — in other words,
China.
“So the hope is that this time is
different, that alongside yet an-
other TICAD, we are going to get
more meaningful follow-through
on the back of it,” Khan said.
“But it is happening at a time of
considerable uncertainty for the
global economy. And one just
wonders if that’s the environment
in which corporates necessarily
feel the impetus to take on a great
deal more risk. There are question
marks about that.”
simon.denyer@washpost.com

Japan promises to expand


its engagement in Africa


EUGENE HOSHIKO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greets Egyptian President
Abdel Fatah al-Sissi at a conference in Yokohama on Wednesday.

Trying to stand apart
from China, Abe vows
to harness private sector

BY ELLEN NAKASHIMA


AND PAUL SONNE


American m ilitary cyber forces
in June knocked out a crucial
database used by Iran’s e lite para-
military force to target oil tank-
ers and shipping traffic in the
Persian Gulf hours after that
force shot down a U.S. surveil-
lance drone, according to U.S.
officials.
The retaliatory strike by U.S.
Cyber Command against the sys-
tem used by the Islamic Revolu-
tionary Guard Corps was ap-
proved by President Trump, who
that same day called off a military
airstrike against Iran because
killing Iranians would not be
“proportionate to shooting down
an unmanned drone.”
U.S. Cyber Command did not
address questions on the secret
operation. “A s a matter of policy
and for operational security, we
do not discuss cyberspace opera-
tions, intelligence, or planning,”
Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokes-
woman, said in a statement.
The operation was first report-
ed by the New York Times. It has
not been publicly acknowledged
by the U.S. government.
The cyberstrike was in the
works for weeks if not months,
officials have said, adding that
the Pentagon proposed launch-
ing it after Iran’s alleged attacks
on two tankers in the Gulf of
Oman earlier in June.
The cyber response to a mili-
tary shoot-down of a drone shows


how the Pentagon is expanding
its repertoire of options to inte-
grate cyber into military plans,
said officials, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity to de-
scribe a sensitive operation.
It also shows how Cybercom,
which coordinated the strike
with Central Command, which
oversees the Middle East, is able
to support regional commanders
to achieve strategic aims — in this
case to preserve freedom of navi-
gation in one of the world’s most
important shipping lanes.
The drone downing and retal-

iatory computer attack reflect
how increasingly hostilities are
playing out below the threshold
of use of force, in what is often
called the “gray zone.”
The cyberstrike was designed
to be debilitating — Iran is still
trying to restore data — but
proportionate and not so provoc-
ative as to result in escalation,
officials said.
“When you’re in this realm
there’s always the chance for
miscalculation,” one official said,
adding that “there were concerns
generally about Iranian respons-
es,” perhaps against U.S. or Israeli
interests. But the feeling was the
strike would not lead to a retalia-
tory spiral, the official said.
The cyber operation did not

target missile and rocket launch
systems, as The Washington Post
previously reported, U.S. officials
said.
It nonetheless represents a
flexing of offensive muscle by
Cyber Command, led by Gen.
Paul Nakasone, which was elevat-
ed to a full combatant command
in May 2018. And it follows an
operation last fall in which the
command disrupted Internet ac-
cess to a Russian entity, the Inter-
net Research Agency, to prevent
cyber “trolls” from sowing dis-
cord among Americans during
the 2018 midterm elections. This
more aggressive posture is en-
abled in part by new authorities
granted by Congress and the
president.
Iran said the drone flew into its
airspace, while the United States
said it was in international air-
space.
“To the extent that Iran is
conducting unlawful operations,
I think [the cyberstrike] was an
appropriate measure to take to
preclude their ability to conduct
further unlawful operations,”
said Michael Schmitt, interna-
tional law professor at the U.S.
Naval War College. “Sometimes
cyberspace allows you to take
operations that are not as escala-
tory as other options on the table.
And this would strike me as one
such operation.”
Jason Healey, a former White
House and military cyber official,
said that although such opera-
tions may prove less escalatory,
they may also encourage U.S.
adversaries to imitate them. “Chi-
na might say, ‘Yo u did it to Iran,
we’re just doing it to Ta iwan.
What are you getting so upset
about?’ ”
ellen.nakashima@washpost.com
paul.sonne@washpost.com

U.S. carried out secret cyberstrike


on Iran to block shipping disruption


Attack occurred after
American surveillance
drone was shot down

“I think [the


cyberstrike] was an


appropriate measure


to take.”
Michael Schmitt, professor at the
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