The Japanese Government has explained why it could not supply any military equipment to Nigeria despite the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and other forms of insecurity ravaging the country.
The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Kazuyoshi Matsunaga, gave the explanation on Thursday in Abuja during a meeting with the management of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) led by its Managing Director Mr. Mohammad Alkali.
According to him, the Japanese government could not have supplied any military equipment to Nigeria due to “the limitation of the military regulation.”
He, however, assured that the Japanese Government would continue to support the activity of the NEDC based on the North East Re-building master plan, and also sought for improved bilateral relations between both countries.
“In Japan, the Japanese media already read the news about Nigeria, not only the football, but also the Boko Haram or the terrorism in the North East. But many Japanese people misunderstand that there are many extremists in North East, but the reality is not true.
“The main reason is how we can get out of the poverty, how we can develop the economy. That is the most important part. They have called the Japanese government for support. Due to the limitation of the military regulation, we cannot supply any military equipment.
“The security is also another important area because currently major Japanese companies have been hesitant to invest in Nigeria due to the security reasons. So, as you may know that Japan is very conservative country, so we tend to avoid risk,” he said.
He said that the Japanese government and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are working together to transfer technology to Nigeria to solve social problems, and that Toyota and Yahamah auto companies are already training mechanics from the North East in Lagos to enable them repair cars and motorcycles in the region.
He regretted that persistent attacks in the Northeast had been a major problem towards investment in the region by the Japanese private sector.
He also revealed that the Japanese government was working with UNICEF to build more than 50,000 toilets in Nigeria to help reduce and prevent open defecation.
Responding, Alkali said the commission was the focal organization responsible for assessing, coordinating and harmonizing all the initiatives of development of North-East.
He said it was crucial for the Japanese Government to continue to support the commission’s activities based on the NEDC roadmap of the master plan.
Alkali said that the Embassy has been supporting recovery and reconstruction of North-East states by disbursing supplemental budget to United Nations agencies such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for capacity development of government officials and communities, building infrastructure and provision of equipment.
He also said that about $75m would be needed to carry out immediate recovery and resettlement activities and projects in the Northeast following the havoc inflicted on the region by insurgents.
He commended the Japanese delegation for visiting the Commission, noting that over 5,059 key projects are already on the list to be implemented by the commission for the transformation of the socio-economic challenges in the North East.