Request of immediate action for retracting VISA refusal of JapaneseNGO to Mozambique/TICAD

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We request your immediate action so that Ms. Naoko Watanabe, a member of the Japanese NGO and an official participant of TICAD, is allowed entry into Mozambique.


The Ministerial Meeting of the Tokyo International Conference for the Development of Africa (TICAD) will be held in Maputo, Mozambique, starting on August 24, 2017. TICAD was established in 1993 on the initiative of Japan and is the main pillar of Japan’s diplomacy towards Africa. Representing this collaboration, the new Japanese Foreign Minister, Taro Kono, will attend the conference.

However, Ms. Naoko Watanabe, a member of the Japanese NGO Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC) and an officially registered TICAD participant, was refused entry into Mozambique.

*Ms. Watanabe is currently at the boarder region between Mozambique and South Africa.

Ms. Watanabe and her organization JVC, the largest Japanese NGO working in the field of international cooperation, have supported the people and peasants of Africa, especially Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa and Mozambique since 1985, contributing to Improve the Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Japanese government.

Both Ms. Watanabe and JVC are respected widely in Japan and in the world, and the refusal to issue the visa by the Mozambican government caused a shock to Japanese society. The action was understood by the Japanese public as another disturbing sign about the current situation in Mozambique.

Japan, represented by Japan's International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is advancing the ProSAVANA ODA program in Mozambique, with the governments of Brazil and Mozambique. This program, signed in 2009, aimed to attract investments in the agribusiness sector for the Nacala Corridor in northern Mozambique and to start agricultural projects using "large-scale abandoned land in a region similar to the Brazilian Cerrado for soy production."

As the details of this program (ProSAVANA) began to be known by the public through visits of the Japan-Brazil Investment Promotion Mission (in 2012), it generated extreme concern among local peasants. In response, a triangular coalition (campaign) was established among civil society groups from the three countries: Mozambique, Brazil and Japan. Ms. Watanabe has been a central figure in this international coalition.

The campaign has managed to change the direction of the ProSAVANA program, but the entry of investments, especially soy and grain producing agribusiness to the region, originally promoted by the three governments, has resulted in massive land grabbing. Currently, many local peasants in ProSAVANA districts continue to suffer from land conflicts.

Since 2013, peasants and Mozambican citizens who have questioned the program have faced various types of intimidation and human rights violations. In 2015, thanks to the leaked documents and the Japan Information Act, it was discovered that JICA has committed series of actions aiming to weaken, intervene and divide Mozambican civil society and isolate those who resist the program through hiring of local consultant agencies, including a local NGO.

In May of this year, 11 residents of ProSAVANA districts submitted an official objection against JICA and ProSAVANA, which is currently under inspection by JICA examiners.

The refusal of Ms. Watanabe's visa increases the possibility of more intimidation of peasants and citizens by local authorities.

Japanese civil society believes that the responsibility for these consequences lies with the Japanese government and JICA, who planned and initiated the program without taking into account local realities, led various actions against Mozambican civil society and gave space to the Mozambican government to intimidate civil society and now also intimidate Japanese citizens.

We ask the Japanese Government, especially Your Excellency Taro Kono, to make every effort to ensure that all those involved in the ProSAVANA and ODA in Mozambique respect the JICA Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations and take steps to improve this situation.

We believe that the first step is the cancellation of the refusal of Ms. Watanabe's visa by the Mozambican government.

 

This petition are also in the following languages:

Related document:

- Official Statement on this case submitted to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Japanese, African and world organizations (English version on page 2):
Http://www.ngo-jvc.net/jp/projects/advocacy-statement/data/20170816-mozavisa2.pdf

--Objection request by 11 residents against ProSAVANA and JICA https://www.jica.go.jp/english/our_work/social_environmental/objection/c8h0vm0000b81di4-att/mozambique_01_01.pdf


Links:
-Information about JVC (Japan International Volunteer Center)
Http://www.ngo-jvc.net/en/
-Information on ProSAVANA and the activities of the triangular coalition of peoples (in Portuguese, English and Japanese)
Https://www.farmlandgrab.org/cat/show/827
-The documents leaked about ProSAVANA
Https://www.farmlandgrab.org/post/view/26158-prosavana-files

 



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