Nduduzo Tshuma Bulawayo Bureau
PRESIDENT Mugabe returned home from Japan yesterday where he attended the UN Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The President arrived at the Harare International Airport early yesterday morning.
He was welcomed by Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni and Harare Provincial Minister Miriam Chikukwa, service chiefs and senior Government officials.
President Mugabe was accompanied to the conference by ministers of Foreign Affairs Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kasukuwere, Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ignatius Chombo.
While in Japan, on the sidelines of the conference, President Mugabe met that country’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and discussed among others issues, the strengthening of bilateral relations between the Asian economic giant and Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa.
During the meeting, Japan warmed up to Zimbabwe and Prime Minister Shinzo pledged $2,5 million to Zimbabwe for disaster preparation and risk management.
He appealed for President Mugabe’s support in his capacity as African Union chairperson to ensure smooth preparations for the Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) to be held on the African continent for the first time next year.
Prime Minister Shinzo also appealed for Africa’s support through President Mugabe to back Japan’s bid for a seat in the UN Security Council.
The President in response, said the decision to support Japan would have to be made by the continental body and not Zimbabwe alone.
He advised PM Shinzo to attend the 60th Anniversary of the Bandung Conference in Indonesia next month to rally for support.
The President also met Japan International Co-operation Agency (Jica) president, Mr Akehiko Tanaka, where they discussed technical co-operation in tourism as a poverty reduction tool.
President Mugabe also granted a Japanese television station an interview, where he said Japan was warming up to Zimbabwe after slightly over a decade of frosty relations.
He said Japan had shown a regrettable tendency to “listen to the West” over its foreign policy towards Zimbabwe, in the process poisoning relations between the two countries.