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Japanese prime minister heads to Africa

Thursday - 1/9/2014, 12:20am  ET

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is heading to Africa, keeping up a busy overseas travel schedule designed to boost Japan's global profile in the face of China's rise.

Abe departed Thursday and will make a brief visit to the Mideast state of Oman before heading to the Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Ethiopia.

He has traveled more widely than his immediate predecessors in a bid to expand Japan's diplomatic reach and help Japanese companies win business overseas.

The unofficial backdrop to his whirlwind travel is China's rise, and the relative decline of a once ascendant Japan during two decades of economic stagnation. Japan is a major aid donor to Africa, but China's investment and trade has powered Africa's economic growth in the past decade.


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