Africa, Japan to wrap up int'l confab on continent's development

African and Japanese leaders are set to wrap up their three-day talks in Yokohama, adopting a declaration and action plan later Monday that would set the stage for cooperation toward African development over the next five years.

At the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development that began Saturday, numerous sessions were held to discuss issues such as trade, investment, gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Talks were also held on what Africa should do after 2015, the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, a set of U.N. targets to address issues such as poverty, hunger and HIV on a global scale.

The Japanese government unveiled over the weekend a 3.2 trillion yen aid package for public and private sector assistance to Africa as well as 100 billion yen for projects to help improve the security situation in northern Africa's Sahel region, both covering the coming five years.

Japan is apparently looking to boost moves to court Africa, a resource-rich and growing continent where China has recently attained greater influence with its aid, trade and investment.

Leaders and delegates from around 50 African nations participated in the latest summit-level TICAD, co-organized by Japan and other international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the African Union.

TICAD has been held every five years in Japan since its launch in 1993.