2 September 2003
South Africa and Japan have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in the areas of science and technology.
The agreement was signed in Pretoria last week as part of the sixth session of the South Africa-Japan Partnership Forum.
President Thabo Mbeki proposed the partnership in science and technology during his visit to Japan in October 2001.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Ben Ngubane said the agreement was based on the need to increase the number of women and people from previously disadvantaged communities entering the fields of science and technology.
“The priority area in the agreement includes increasing the presence of new science missions in the two countries”, Ngubane said.
Yasukuni Enoki, the Japanese ambassador, said the agreement was the beginning of a long relationship between the two countries. “We look forward to learning more from South Africa”, he said.
The agreement also covers cooperation in biotechnology, information and communication technology, rural development, and environmental management technologies, which will be facilitated through exchange programmes of scientists from the two countries.
The two-day South Africa-Japan Partnership Forum, attended by Japanese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Tetsuro Yano, also discussed the interaction between the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
Japan is South Africa’s most important trade partner in Asia, and the third most important in the world. Imports from Japan totalled over R19-billion in 2002, while SA exports to Japan totalled over R24-billion.