This paper does not deal directly with the relations between Japan and Africa; instead it looks at Malaysia and Côte d'Ivoire with the objective of portraying Japanese contribution to Malaysian economic development and identifying some lessons that can be learnt by Africa from it. Both countries had a comparable macroeconomic outlook until 1980, with economies based on similar primary goods such as cocoa, coffee, palm oil, timber etc., which are typical of tropical climates. However, following the sharp decline in international prices since 1980, Malaysia registered a high economic growth and became successfully industrialized, Côte d'Ivoire suffered an economic crisis and a balance of payment deficit. Moreover, the latter is not a special case among African countries. The paper also seeks to advance some hypotheses in order to explain the phenomena.