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International relations

Japan urges African startup tie-ups in Belt and Road countermove

Tokyo seeks corporate help at conference as China pours billions into continent

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the sixth Tokyo Conference on African Development, held in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in August 2016.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan is encouraging its companies to work with African startups, hoping to raise its profile on a continent often called the global economy's "last frontier" and offer a counterweight to Chinese influence there.

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a triennial event led by the Japanese government, opens on Wednesday amid two big trends: a shift toward private-sector investment from official development assistance, and advances in digital and financial technology that are bringing consumers without bank accounts and formal addresses within reach of companies.

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