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.