Japan’s Resource and Energy Diplomacy in Southern Africa: Botswana as a Conduit
Japan primarily relies on resource diplomacy to address its energy and resource insecurity. The Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 exacerbated Japan’s energy insecurity, and forced it to aggressively explore and extract resources worldwide. The resource-rich Southern Africa has become Japan’s target. In January 2008, Japan opened the region’s largest embassy, by staff compliment and size, in Gaborone, Botswana, to strengthen its bilateral relations and resource diplomacy. In July 2008, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) set-up a Geological Remote Sensing Centre in Lobatse; Botswana; its sole centre in Africa. It is Japan’s exploration base for minerals and oil in the region. This article examines Japan’s energy and resource diplomacy in Southern Africa using Botswana as a case study. It argues that Japan uses Botswana as a conduit to build a business empire for its firms (private and state-owned) in the natural resources sector in the region. The article provides another dimension in understanding Japan-Botswana relations by situating the analysis within the resource and energy security paradigm.