Visiting Professor at Tokyo and Contribution to Science Diplomacy to Boost Nipo-African Relations

by Denis J. Sonwa (ELP 2010) | Scientist, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Cameroon

From November 2017 to January 2018, I was at TUFS (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) as a visiting professor of the African Studies Center (ASC). This center, created in April 2017 as the first center in Japan, aims to focus on contemporary studies of Africa. After the protocol/administrative launching in April was attended by many African Ambassadors, I had the privilege to be among few scholars who got to take part in the “Kick-off” meeting on “New frontiers of African studies.” My keynote presentation was on “Forest and Climate Change Response in Africa.” After the “Kick-off” meeting, I was very privileged to be given the first visiting professorship of the new center.

My three-month professorship was split around writing publications and attending conferences in universities (Kyoto University; Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology: TUAT), as well as research organizations (at FFPRI: Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute; a conference jointly organised with JIRCAS: The Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences) and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency). I was really at the center of multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural consideration has promoting by the ELP initiative. As the first visiting professor of the ASC-TUFS, I contribute to the reflection on settling the foundations of the new center.

We are still waiting for the proceedings of the “Kick-off” meeting. I will continue to try to strengthen the relations between Japan and Africa. My dream is to see initiatives such as TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) give more consideration to science diplomacy. The new ASC can be a good catalyst to encouraging mainstream science diplomacy within initiatives such as TICAD and vice versa (mainstream nipo-African development consideration in the science arena).