Tokyo: Botswana will have plenty of opportunities to make itself better known to the 127 million inhabitants of Japan when H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, arrives here today (Sunday) to begin a four day official visit (17-20 October) at the invitation of his Japanese counterpart, the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Mr. Naoto Kan.
During the visit the two leaders will hold official talks that are expected to focus on a wide range of potential areas for further bilateral cooperation between Botswana and Japan, which remains a global economic and technological leader.
On this visit, the President will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Hon. Phandu Skelemani, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Hon. Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, and the Member of Parliament for Francistown West, the Hon. Mr. Tshelang Masisi, as well as senior officials.
An anticipated highlight of the visit will be the President’s audience with the Japanese Emperor, His Majesty Akihito, which is scheduled for Monday afternoon. While the monarchy here no longer exercises political power and generally stays out of the public limelight, it remains a revered institution within Japanese society. In this context the President’s audience at the Imperial Palace is considered to be a notable honour.
Amongst his other engagements, President Khama is also expected to meet the former Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Madame Sadako Ogata and the leaders of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, the Japanese Business Federation (or Keidanren) and the Africa – Japan Relations Committee of Parliament.
The President will also host a luncheon for a number of Japanese parliamentarians.
On Tuesday, President Khama will address a high level Investment Roundtable that has been organised with the Japanese Business Federation under the theme: “Investing in Botswana ÔÇô Japan’s Gateway to SADC.”
Both the President and the Minister of Trade and Industry are expected to address the Roundtable, which will be chaired by Mr. Akio Dobashi, who is the head of the Business Federation’s Sub-Saharan Africa Committee. Also prominently participating in the Roundtable will be the Chief Executive Officer of BEDIA, Mr. Jacob Nkate.
Botswana’s presence in Tokyo, which with its population of over 30 million is considered to be the world’s biggest municipality as well as Japan’s political and economic centre, will be further highlighted throughout the coming week by a series of cultural events and exhibitions culminating in a gala Botswana Music and Dance Night at the Akasaka (central Tokyo) Civic Centre on Tuesday.
The evening’s entertainment will feature the sounds of Banjo Mosele & the Veterans band and the Dipela tsa ga Kobokwe cultural troupe, as well as very special guest performance by leading Japanese musician.
The Dipela tsa ga Kobokwe troupe will also be featured at the Botswana Art and Diamond Exhibition, which will be running from the 17-21 of October at the Oazo Marunouchi centre, while Banjo Mosele’s band will be appearing on three nights at the Calabash, Tokyo’s leading ‘African’ nightspot.
Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1966, Botswana and Japan have developed a strong bilateral relationship based on mutual respect, which has been manifested in cooperation over the years in such areas as economic development and trade, cultural exchange, and Japanese support in such areas as Education, Health and Transport and Communications.
While this will be President Khama’s first visit to Japan as Head of State, he has previously visited the country while Vice President. Former Presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Fetus Mogae also each visited Japan on multiple occasions during their tenures in office, underscoring the close bilateral bonds that have been cultivated over the years.