The Visiting Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday unveiled plans to institute a "Noguchi Prize Award" for outstanding medical research work in Africa. It would be similar to that of the Nobel Peace Prize and would recognise contributions made by medical researchers and medical care experts in the fight to eradicate the various diseases afflicting the Continent.
The first in the series would be presented in Japan in 2008, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the death of Dr Hideyo Noguchi, a Japanese Bacteriologist and Pathologist, who died in Accra of yellow fever at the age of 51, a disease into which he was conducting medical research.
Mr Koizumi told Journalists after he and his host, President John Agyekum Kufuor emerged out of an hour-long summit between Ghana and Japan at the Castle, Osu, Accra.
The meeting discussed bi-lateral relations between the two countries, the United Nations (UN) reform and reviewed other multilateral issues.
Mr Koizumi said the Noguchi Prize Japan's contribution to Africa and medical research and would close the distance between the Continent and Japan's world.
The Japanese Prime Minister, who is in Ghana for a three-day visit, said his country would hold consultations with President Kufuor and the African Union (AU) Chairman to fashion out the modalities and the specifics of the Prize.
Mr Koizumi expressed confidence in Ghana's economy saying; the country was a model for Africa and had a great future. He said he was hopeful that his visit would lead to further deepening of the close ties between the two nations and thanked President Kufuor and the people of Ghana for the warm reception. The Prime Minister also responded to a question on what appears to be the sudden focus of the Far East countries on Africa especially with his visit coming close at the heels of a similar one by the Chinese President.
He said China had every right to adopt a policy to support Africa. African countries, he said, would wish to receive as much support as they could get. President Kufuor hailed the idea of the Noguchi Prize, especially as Africa would be the focus.