Japanese foreign policy on Africa
Africa has been an important world region for Japan's trade and investment. Japan had some historical experience with Africa and little interest in economic ties with the region, except for development of raw material supplies.
In 1990 Africa accounted for just over 1% of Japan's imports and for just over 1% of its exports. Japan's largest trading partner in Africa in 1990 was South Africa, which accounted for 30% of Japan's exports to Africa and 50% of Japan's imports from the region. Because of trading sanctions imposed on South Africa by the United States and other countries, Japan emerged as South Africa's largest trading partner during the 1980s. This position proved embarrassing to Japan and led it to downgrade some diplomatic and economic relations with the country. Despite the fact that South Africa remained Japan's largest trading partner in the region, both exports and imports in 1988 had declined by more than one-third from their value in 1980. With the end of Apartheid and normalization of international relations of South Africa in 1994 Japan's special role ended.
Africa was the location of US$4.6 billion or 2.5% of Japanese foreign direct investment in 1988, of which most (US$3.6 billion) was in Liberia. As in Panama, this investment was mainly in the form of flag of convenience shipping.
In 1989, Japan made very large increases in aid to Africa with the announcement of a US$600 million grant program for the next three years.