Japan-Tanzania Relations


Japan recognized Tanganyika immediately after its independence from the United Kingdom in December 1961. Zanzibar became independent in 1963 and Tanzania was founded in April 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar formed a union. Since then, Japan has been enjoying friendly and cordial relations with Tanzania for five decades now. Tanzania participated in the Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo in October 1964. Tanzania also participated in the World Expo for the first time in Osaka when it was held there in 1970. Thus, important steps in the post WWII history of Japan have coincided with the historical occasions for Tanzania.

Throughout the history of friedship between Tanzania and Japan, there have been numerous important visits in both ways. Our Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita still vividly remember their visit in Tanzania in 1983, with the memory of fascinating people and nature of this country. From Tanzania, Japan has the honor to have received its founder Mwalimu Nyerere as our state guest in 1981 and all the succeeding presidents including the former President Kikwete.

Japan started to assist Tanzania in its endeavor to develop the country as early as 1966, when Japan extended its first concessional credit to Tanzania. In 1967 the first young volunteers were sent to Tanzania and they mixed with ordinary citizens and farmers to teach their children in schools, help patients in hospitals or work together in local governments. Now the accumulated number of young volunteers exceeded one thousand.

The government has been attaching priorities to economic and social infrastructure building such as roads, electricity supply and water supply as well as transfer of technology related to rice production or irrigation. Tanzania is one of the largest recipients of the Japanese assistance in Sub-Sahara.

Of course, the cooperation between Tanzania and Japan is not limited to bilateral relations. Tanzania and Japan have been closely working together in international fora, such as the United Nations.

The economic relations between Tanzania and Japan stagnated in the 1980s and 1990s due to the economic difficulties in Tanzania and the sluggish economy in Japan after the bubble burst in the early 1990s. However, it started to develop dynamically since the beginning of this century. More and more Japanese companies are becoming interested in Tanzania as a growing market endowed with abundant natural resources. It is sure that in the near future the economic relations between Tanzania and Japan will reach a new stage of cooperation.

Economic cooperation

Tanzania has made very impressive economic gains and many social transformations have taken place since its independence. However, challenges still remain to reach everyone across Tanzania, which is large and sparsely populated.

Since 1954, the Japanese government has been working closely with the Tanzanian government and its people. Japan has set goals and priorities for bilateral cooperation to assist Tanzania in its development efforts. The priorities of the Japanese assistance include areas such as economic and social infrastructure and increased rice production. We are very pleased to see that the roads, wells and irrigation systems, which have been built through our bilateral assistance programmes, have contributed to the improvement of life. As many Tanzanians remember, a large part of the roads in Dar es Salaam was tarred by Japanese assistance and the names of Japanese contractors such as "Kajima" and "Konoike" are well known as symbols of Japanese high quality work.

There are three pillars of Japanese assistance to Tanzania:

(1) to contribute to the economic growth to reduce poverty, in particular through increased rice production, (2) to develop infrastructure to support economic growth and poverty reduction, in particular through development of transport, power supply and water supply/water resources management and (3) to support the improvement of administrative services for the nation as a whole.

Many Japanese people from various organizations, including NGOs, JICA, as well as private companies, are working hard in various fields to help Tanzanians to achieve poverty reduction.

Donor coordination is highly advanced in Tanzania in order for assistance from various sources be best harmonised to address the challenges faced by the Tanzanian people. Japan, which actively participates in the donor activities, now chairs the transport sector of donors and also co-chairs the agriculture sector.