Japanese Lawmakers Open Hearts, But Not Pocketbooks, to Mandala
TOKYO (AP) _ Nelson Mandela received a standing ovation in Japan’s parliament on Tuesday, but the black South African leader did not get the financial aid he was seeking for his African National Congress.
Mandela said he was honored by the unusual chance for a foreigner who is not a head of state to address a joint parliamentary session.
In his 15-minute speech, Mandela called the lifting of the state of emergency and other recent reforms in South Africa a ″cause for optimism and encouragement.″ But he said the ANC was handicapped in trying to achieve an end to apartheid by its lack of resources.
The visitors’ gallery in the wood-paneled chamber was full as lawmakers listened to Mandela’s speech, translated into Japanese over earphones.
Later, Mandela held a news conference at which he complained about Japan’s contribution to the anti-apartheid movement.
He said that of four countries he has visited on an Asia-Pacific tour, only Japan has failed to pledge money to his African National Congress, the largest anti-apartheid group in South Africa.
Mandela, 72, said he had asked the Japanese government to contribute $25 million to the ANC to help it achieve stability and negotiate with the South African government for an end to apartheid.
″The Japanese government has disclosed that they have already spent $1.8 million toward assisting in improving the conditions of our people in South Africa,″ he said. Compared to aid from other nations, ″the contribution of the Japanese government is absolutely insignificant,″ Mandela said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu told Mandela that Japan could not provide aid to the ANC because of its policy of not giving assistance to political parties in other nations. Kaifu said his government would provide aid to grass-roots South African groups, however.
A Foreign Ministry official said Japan has the ″political will″ to give money to the ANC, but has been looking for non-governmental organizations through which to channel the funds.
″We really have to establish some sort of framework through which we can expand our aid activities to the African National Congress, and we are about to start this kind of plan-making,″ ministry spokesman Taizo Watanabe said.
He said Japan had not been forewarned of Mandela’s $25 million request.
Foreign Ministry officials say they welcome recent reforms in South Africa and suggest Japan may lift some of its sanctions against Pretoria in the area of personnel exchanges.
Mandela called for all international sanctions to be retained until democracy is achieved. ″We are not prepared to ask the international community for the removal of sanctions until we have the principle of one man, one vote,″ he said.
Japan also bans private investment in South Africa, limits diplomatic ties to the consular level and prohibits imports of South African iron and steel.
Asked about recent comments by Japanese Justice Minister Seiroku Kajiyama -who compared foreign prostitutes in Japan to blacks in the United States, saying both ″ruin the atmosphere″ of neighborhoods they enter - Mandela called himself ″an enemy of racism in whatever form it takes.″
″But at the same time, I believe this is a matter which is best left to the Japanese people to resolve,″ he said.
In his request for aid, Mandela asked for help in reducing poverty and illiteracy among South African blacks and in creating jobs for the thousands of exiles and political prisoners expected to return to South African society.
Mandela said Australia had promised to provide $15 million, Indonesia $10 million and India $6.5 million during his visits to those countries. He plans to visit Malaysia after leaving Japan on Thursday.
Japan was South Africa’s second-largest trading partner last year after West Germany, with two-way trade totaling $3.75 billion, Japanese figures show.