Ambassador Mataitoga hosted to a Welcome Reception [Kamaishi & Miyako City]

Whilst in Kamaishi, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga was also hosted to a welcome reception on Thursday, 6 June 2019 evening. Attendees included the Mayor of Kamaishi city, Mayor of Miyako city, Senior city officials of both cities, and friends of Fiji who all enjoyed the dinner. About 20 attended the two-hour reception.

The evening reception is hoped to inspire others to derive new openings of exchange ties, and in particular to what that can be exchanged between Kamaishi, Miyako, and Fiji. Mayor Noda of Kamaishi while officiating added that “I hope you have the chance to build deeper relationships with the Members of our Rugby World Cup community this evening, and further develop ties with Kamaishi, Miyako, and Iwate ahead of a successful Rugby World Cup”. The Mayor also stressed how the owner of Houraikan Inn experienced significant damage from the earthquake and tsunami but was able to be rebuilt through the great effort of its owner and staff.

The Ambassador, in his remarks, expressed profound gratitude for both the Mayors of Kamaishi and Miyako and Iwate Prefecture as well as all those involved in the building and strengthening the Fiji-Japan relationship in Iwate. Ambassador Mataitoga also underscored his visit to Abashiri, and Sapporo and how rugby a base has also seen Fiji’s genuine connections with other prefectures and cities in Japan. The growing bond between Fiji and the regional part of Japan in recent times, and now with Miyako as the second official campsite and Kamaishi as the official match venue for our team, seals the initial establishment of Fiji-Kamaishi, Miyako and Iwate exchanges. The need to further promote economic, commercial, and people-to-people relations between the two countries was also stressed.

Ambassador Mataitoga flanked by Kamaishi Mayor Noda (left) and Miyako Mayor Yamamoto (right)

Ambassador Mataitoga further thanked Kamaishi and Miyako Mayors respectively for their tremendous support and assistance in molding together a very successful visit itinerary. He also assured the Mayor of the Fiji Embassy Tokyo`s commitment and support towards a successful visit program and the official camp of our Flying Fijians in Iwate Prefecture.

FRIDAY, 7 JUNE – KAMAISHI CITY, IWATE

  1. Ambassador Mataitoga pays courtesy call on Kamaishi City Mayor

Mayor Noda and Ambassador Mataitoga

On Friday, 7 June 2019, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga paid a courtesy call on His Worship Takenori Noda, Mayor of Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture. The call is aimed at encouraging both parties to work cooperatively for the promotion of the 2019RWC and its exchange opportunities. 

At the outset, Mayor Noda thanked the Ambassador for visiting Kamaishi city, to which the Ambassador also proceeded to convey his deepest condolences and sympathies to all those affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which claimed numerous victims and caused devastating damages. The Mayor further thanked Fiji and the rest of the world for their support and help after the devastating disasters, and stressed that it’d been eight years since the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Ambassador Mataitoga and Mayor Noda discussed various areas which included Kamaishi hosting the Pacific Nations Cup on 27 July 2019; the 2019RWC match between Fiji and Uruguay at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium; sports, education, and cultural exchanges and tourism promotional activities. The Ambassador also sought the support of Mayor Noda in developing community-to-community relations between the people of Kamaishi and Fiji, through tourism promotion, study tours for school students from Kamaishi to visit Fiji. This, after all, is part of the PALM 8 Iwaki Declaration, and in particular the Local Government Networking Framework – increasing exposure and people to people exchanges between Japan and Fiji/PICs.

Ambassador Mataitoga also cited ongoing successful exchanges between Fiji and Saga, Oita and Akita, and Takanezawa machi of Tochigi Prefecture respectively. Fiji’s interest in attracting tourists from Kamaishi was noted, particularly given information re resumption of Nadi-Narita direct flights from 3 July 2018, Fiji needs the regional connections to be made in such a way that will allow an increasing number of visitors from Japan.

Mayor Noda expressed his support and confidence that the friendly exchanges between Fiji and Kamaishi city would be further enhanced. He then thanked the Ambassador for visiting and for promoting close cooperation ties between Fiji and Kamaishi, Iwate.

  • Site Visits

Later in the afternoon on Friday, 7 June 2019, Ambassador Mataitoga visited Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Kamaishi city, Iwate prefecture, the second match venue for the match between the Flying Fijians and Uruguay.

Located in Unosumai Kamaishi, Iwate, the stadium offers a seating capacity of about 16,000, which will be completed this year, before the RWC match. As stressed by Mayor Noda, the beautiful stadium, completed with the support and vision of so many people, is a dream come true. It is noted that the stadium has been built on the former grounds of the Kamaishi Higashi Junior High School and Unosumai Elementary School. All six hundred students at school at the time of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami survived. As described by the guide, the stadium which stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the people of Kamaishi city is hoped to also act as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come. The people of Kamaishi are excited and looking forward to the two matched that will be hosted in Kamaishi during the 2019RWC, i.e., Fiji vs. Uruguay (25/Sept.), and Namibia vs. Canada (13/Oct.).

FRIDAY, 7 JUNE – SAPPORO CITY, HOKKAIDO

On Friday, 7 June 2019, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga convened a meeting with Mr. Naoya Oyaizu

Director General for General Coordination and Policy Planning Department, METI Hokkaido discussing bilateral relations, in particular, the possibility of deepening and further promoting economic, commercial and people-to-people ties between Fiji and Hokkaido. The meeting was also attended by senior officials of METI Hokkaido.

A brief discussion followed, detailing on the business opportunities in Fiji, and those that can and should be taken into account when defining and implementing projects or investments whose funds are readily available through the GoJ initiatives, for instance, PALM8 – Iwaki Declaration and so forth.

Fiji’s interest in attracting tourists from Hokkaido was noted, particularly given the resumption of Nadi-Narita direct flights from 3 July 2018, Fiji needs the regional connections to be made in such a way that will allow an increasing number of visitors from Japan. Ambassador Mataitoga further stressed the required Tourism PR of Fiji`s delicious food, destination, etc., in which Mr. Oyaizu agreed that the Fiji Tourism Promotion 2019 from 20-22 September in Sapporo would provide an excellent platform for participating tourism agencies from Fiji and Japan. 

Ambassador Mataitoga further stressed of MANA Island Resort & Spa in Fiji, a Japanese owned resort, and emphasize how valuable, such investment and attractive Honeymoon or even Second Honeymoon packages that they create would be in assisting Fiji’s tourism sector move to new heights.

*The METI Hokkaido has been very supportive and active in promoting the Fiji Tourism Promotion 2019 throughout Hokkaido and is also one of the “Supported By” organizations under the host city, Sapporo city. METI Hokkaido is providing the Embassy the 3-day venue free of charge.

(middle, l-r) Ambassador Mataitoga with Director General Oyaizu, together with METI Hokkaido Officials

In closing, Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Director General Oyaizu and his team for receiving the FET delegation and the opportunity to be engaged in a frank discussion on keys areas and issues that are of importance to both parties.  He informed that the FET looks forward to METI Hokkaido cooperation and assistance as discussed.

Fiji Tourism Promotion 2019 in Sapporo venue – Sapporo Station Underground walkway

FRIDAY, 7 JUNE – KAMAISHI CITY, IWATE

Ambassador Mataitoga hosted to a Welcome Reception [Fiji-Hokkaido Kai]

While in Sapporo, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga was also hosted to a welcome reception on Thursday, 6 June 2019 evening. Attendees included the Mayor of Ebetsu city, Senior city officials of Ebestu and Sapporo, METI Hokkaido, Australia Consul in Hokkaido, and friends of Fiji. About 40 attended the two-hour reception.

The evening reception is hoped to inspire others to derive new openings of exchange ties, and in particular to what that can be exchanged between Fiji, Australia, and Hokkaido. HC Shimizu while officiating informed of how beautiful Fiji is, and the many opportunities that can be shaped for exchanges. He further extended that people-to-people exchange cooperation for various fields is something that we can develop and is of great importance and benefit to Fiji and Hokkaido, as well as Australia and Hokkaido whose team will be hosted in Ebetsu city, Hokkaido.

(l-r) Ambassador Mataitoga, HC Shimizu with Fiji-Hokkaido Kai members

The Ambassador, in his remarks, expressed profound gratitude for the Honorary Consul and Fiji-Hokkaido Kai members as well as all those involved in the building and strengthening the Fiji-Japan relationship in Hokkaido. Ambassador Mataitoga also underscored his visit to Abashiri, and how rugby today is part of sports Diplomacy, and how this as a base has also seen Fiji’s genuine connections with other prefectures and cities in Japan. The growing bond between Fiji and Hokkaido in recent times following the establishment of Fiji’s Honorary Consulate in Ebestu, and now with Abashiri as the first official campsite and Sapporo as the official match venue for our team, seals the initial establishment of Fiji-Hokkaido exchanges. The need to further promote economic, commercial, and people-to-people relations between the two countries was also stressed.

The resumption of direct flights, Tourism, and Business promotion was also discussed, to which he further advised that the Fiji Embassy Tokyo stands firm in assisting or creating a new strategy that would allow many tourists or businesspeople from Hokkaido to visit Fiji as well.

Australian Consul in Hokkaido, Mr. Ronald Green also remarked on the Fiji-Australia ties, as well as the promising exchanges to be undertaken between Australia, Fiji, and Hokkaido. The preparation of the official camps for both teams, as well as the official match on the 21st of September 2019, will inspire many for future exchanges as well as visit the South Pacific as well.

Representatives of Ebetsu City, Sapporo City, and even METI Hokkaido also commented on how Hokkaido is preparing and looking forward to hosting internationals teams during the 2019RWC. Ambassador Mataitoga once again thanked everyone for the great evening, which was enjoyed by everyone that attended.

Ambassador Mataitoga pays courtesy call on Sapporo City Deputy Mayor

Ambassador Mataitoga with Deputy Mayor

On Thursday, 6 June 2019, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga paid a courtesy call on Sapporo City Deputy Mayor, Mr. Takatoshi Fukuda at the Sapporo City Office in Sapporo, Hokkaido. The call is aimed at encouraging both parties to work cooperatively for the promotion of the RWC 2019 and its exchange opportunities. 

Ambassador Mataitoga opened the meeting by relaying his appreciation for the Mayor`s acceptance and the 2019RWC preparation made thus far. Sapporo is the first official match venue for the Flying Fijians against the Wallabies. The last few months through the support of the RWC Secretariat and Fiji Rugby Union, have seen the City together with its line sports agencies working hard in preparing the citizens of Sapporo in welcoming the international teams that will be hosted in their city.

Ambassador Mataitoga also pointed out that Fiji is interested in a more long-term exchange opportunity most notably in the areas of sports, cultural and educational exchanges. He further elaborated on the Akita, Oita, Saga, and even Takanezawa-machi in Tochigi Prefecture continuous sports, cultural and educational exchanges with Fiji.

Both sides agreed on the need to keep track of the bilateral exchange cooperation and development that will be undertaken between our two countries. Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Deputy Mayor Fukuda for the fruitful discussion that has transpired and looks forward to having further discussion on a variety of areas.

Ambassador Mataitoga visits Abashiri Elementary School [School Visit]

On Thursday, 6 June 2019, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga visited Abashiri Elementary School and spoke to a group of about 60 (sixty) Grade 6 students together with teachers and school officials. The Ambassador was welcomed by the Head of the School, Mr. Satoshi Katagiri, Mr. Masaaki Mishima, Superintendent – Abashiri City Board of Education. FS Savu later provided a detail presentation on Fiji’s Overview and the Fiji Embassy Tokyo Outreach Activities throughout Japan.

Ambassador Mataitoga with Grade 6 students of Abashiri Elementary School

Abashiri Elementary School, a co-ed school is known as one of the top five elementary schools in Hokkaido, with 300 students enrolled in the school. The school is also famous for tag rugby, whose students start learning once they’ve reached Grade 4.

At the meeting with Headmaster Katagiri, Ambassador Mataitoga provided a comparison of the Fijian and Japanese school children. He further sought the support of Headmaster Katagiri in developing community-to-community relations between the students of Abashiri and Fiji, through tourism promotion, study tours for school students from Abashiri to visit Fiji. This, after all, is part of the PALM 8 Iwaki Declaration – increasing exposure and people to people exchanges between Japan and Fiji/PICs. Ambassador Mataitoga also cited ongoing successful exchanges between Fiji and Saga, Oita and Akita, and Takanezawa machi of Tochigi Prefecture respectively.

The school headmaster also shared the same sentiments, and further thanked the Ambassador, as well as the Fiji Embassy in Tokyo, for the great support and assistance in visiting his school and informing students directly of Fiji information.

Ambassador Mataitoga also indicated that Fiji is interested in a more long-term exchange opportunity most especially in the areas of sports, cultural and educational exchanges. The need to look into areas of collaborations with Fiji, and that hopefully Abashiri Elementary School can consider was further noted.

(l-r) Mr. Inomata, HC Shimizu, Ambassador Mataitoga, Headmaster Kitagiri and Superintendent Mishima

Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Headmaster Katagiri and his team for the overwhelming discussion and hospitality by the school and looks forward to having further discussion on a variety of areas of collaboration. It is noted that the school visit will inspire ideas for exchanges to be undertaken between Abashiri Elementary School and Fiji.

Ambassador Mataitoga hosted to a Welcome Dinner

Following the seminar, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga was also hosted to a welcome dinner on Wednesday evening. Attendees included the Mayor of Abashiri city, Senior city officials, representatives of the sports association and Abashiri Chamber of Commerce and Industry who all enjoyed the dinner.

Following the Dinner hosted by Abashiri City Mayor

In his remarks, Ambassador Mataitoga thanked the Mayor and his Abashiri colleagues for their tremendous support and assistance in molding together a very successful visit itinerary. He further assured the Mayor of the Fiji Embassy Tokyo`s commitment and support towards a successful visit program and the official camp of our Flying Fijians in Abashiri.

Citizens of Abashiri City in Hokkaido Hears of Fiji [Seminar]

Abashiri City in Hokkaido together with the Embassy of the Republic of Fiji in Tokyo held a Fiji Promotion Seminar in Abashiri on Wednesday, 5 June 2019, to provide overview information of Fiji with focus on sports and culture.  Senior city officials, representatives of the sports association, business sector, and interested individuals from throughout Abashiri attended the seminar. About 196 people attended the seminar.

The seminar started with the welcoming remarks from His Worship Mayor Yoichi Mizutani providing an overview of the initial relationship between Fiji and Abashiri, rugby promotion and Abashiri getting ready to host the Flying Fijians Team in September 2019.

His Worship Mayor Yoichi Mizutani giving the welcoming remarks

This was followed by opening remarks from HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga further expressing profound gratitude for the Mayor and his team’s willingness to assist Fiji in building and strengthening the Fiji-Japan relationship in Abashiri, Hokkaido.

Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga giving the opening remarks

Ambassador Mataitoga also underscored how rugby today is part of Sports Diplomacy, and how this as a base has also seen Fiji’s genuine connections with other prefectures and cities in Japan. Fiji’s win and being crowned the 2018-2019 World Rugby 7s Champion as an example was also shared. The growing bond between Fiji and Hokkaido in recent times following the establishment of Fiji’s Honorary Consulate in Ebestu, and now with Abashiri as the first official camp site and Sapporo as the official match venue for our team, seals the initial establishment of Fiji-Abashiri exchanges. The need to further promote economic, commercial and people-to-people relations between the two countries was also stressed.

The seminar then heard a detail presentation from First Secretary Kelera Savu on Fiji’s Overview, History of Fiji Rugby and the Fiji Embassy Tokyo Outreach Activities, further expanding Fiji’s footprint throughout Japan. The FET Outreach Activities and Fiji Tourism Promotion 2019 initiatives during the Rugby World Cup (September-October) were also explained to the participants and they were challenged to support the efforts of the FET, now with the resumption of the Nadi-Narita direct flights.

Fiji’s Honorary Consul in Ebetsu, Hokkaido Mr. Chikayuki Shimizu also shared his experience and the role he plays in further supporting the Fiji Embassy Tokyo’s outreach activities and effort in strengthening and deepening Fiji-Japan ties throughout Japan. The Abashiri Board of Education Superintendent Mr. Masaaki Mishima concluded by thanking everyone for the great turnout, and in particular Ambassador Mataitoga for gracing Abashiri City with his presence.

The seminar provided an opportunity for Ambassador Mataitoga to express deep appreciation to all involved in the preparation and arrangement of receiving and hosting the Flying Fijians Team during the RWC2019. The seminar is the first of its kind of the Fiji Embassy efforts to promote Fiji directly to the citizens of Abashiri City, Hokkaido.

Meeting with Abashiri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)

While in Abashiri, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga also had the opportunity to convene a meeting with Mr. Joji Kitamura, Vice-Chairman of the Abashiri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and his team, together with the Abashiri Tourism Association (ATA). Common sectors, including Agriculture, Fisheries, and Tourism, along with Training programs and Exchanges that can be undertaken for our youths and farmers, were discussed at length.

(middle, l-r) Ambassador Mataitoga with Vice-Chairman Kitamura, together with Abashiri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and Abashiri Tourism Association officials

Making it easier to do business in Abashiri, the ACCI is said to have one thousand (1,000) members, who are mostly SMEs related owners and are driven in providing quality information, professional services and support for businesses in Abashiri.

The Ambassador explained of the Fiji Tax and Customs Incentives for Investment and further reassured everyone that the Embassy would submit the incentives copies and provide more detailed information on how we can further cooperate on this. Now with the resumption of direct flights, the need to increase trade, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges were also discussed at large. Also, the brief on the business opportunities in Fiji, and those that can and should be taken into account when defining and implementing projects or investments whose funds are readily available through the GoJ initiatives, for instance, PALM8 – Iwaki Declaration and so forth were also noted.

Fiji’s interest in attracting tourists from Abashiri was noted, particularly given the resumption of Nadi-Narita direct flights from 3 July 2018, Fiji needs the regional connections to be made in such a way that will allow an increasing number of visitors from Japan. Ambassador Mataitoga further stressed the required Tourism PR of Fiji`s delicious food, culture, tourist spots, etc. He also advised of MANA Island Resort & Spa in Fiji, a Japanese owned resort, and emphasize how valuable, such investment and attractive Honeymoon or even Second Honeymoon packages that they create would be in assisting Fiji’s tourism sector move to new heights.

Vice-Chairman Kitamura shared the same sentiments, and further reiterated the need to obtain more Fiji information in Abashiri and even throughout Hokkaido, for such provides tremendous opportunity to market Fiji regarding tradable commodities and tourist destination. Strategies to the various private and public entities to visit Fiji, golf tours, fishing, and even creating packages for them were also discussed. He further expressed how beautiful Fiji is, and how much skill up training exchange cooperation for youths and farmers could be something that would benefit both countries.

In closing, Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Vice Chairman Vice-Chairman Kitamura and his team for receiving the FET delegation and the opportunity to be engaged in a frank discussion on keys areas and issues that are of importance to both parties.  He informed that the FET looks forward to the ACCI and ATA cooperation and assistance as discussed.

ABASHIRI CITY, HOKKAIDO – Ambassador Mataitoga pays a courtesy call on Abashiri City Mayor

WEDNESDAY, 5 JUNE – ABASHIRI CITY, HOKKAIDO – Ambassador Mataitoga pays courtesy call on Abashiri City Mayor

Ambassador Mataitoga with Mayor Mizutani

On Wednesday, 5 June 2019, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga paid a courtesy call on His Worship Yoichi Mizutani, Mayor of Abashiri City in Hokkaido. The call is aimed at encouraging both parties to work cooperatively for the promotion of the 2019RWC and its exchange opportunities. 

Ambassador Mataitoga opened the meeting by relaying his appreciation for the Mayor`s invitation and the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) and Abashiri City`s preparation for the 2019RWC. Abashiri is the first official campsite for the Flying Fijians, and for the last few months through the support of the RWC Secretariat and FRU, have been preparing the required training ground, training facilities, indoor swimming pool, etc. for the Fiji Team. Also, the City, together with its line sports agencies, have been working hard in preparing the citizens of Abashiri in welcoming the Fiji Team this year, September 2019.

It is noted that the most prominent industries in Abashiri are fishery and agriculture related. Agricultural activities mainly include dairy farming and the cultivation of a variety of crops, whereas Fish processing has grown to be an important secondary industry. Forestry is another important industry in Abashiri and is supported by a rich supply of natural resources, together with Tourism for its beauty of the lakes, the landscape, and the Sea of Okhotsk, with the drift ice it carries to shore each winter (mostly in February), are all very attractive sites which the Ambassador later visited.

Speaking further, Ambassador Mataitoga pointed out that Fiji is interested in a more long-term exchange opportunity, most especially in the areas of sports, cultural, and educational exchanges. He further seeks the support of Mayor Mizutani in developing community-to-community relations between the people of Abashiri and Fiji, through tourism promotion, study tours for school students from Abashiri to visit Fiji. This, after all, is part of the PALM 8 Iwaki Declaration, and in particular, increasing exposure and people to people exchanges between Japan and Fiji/PICs. Ambassador Mataitoga further cited ongoing fruitful exchanges between Fiji and Saga, Oita, Akita, and Takanezawa machi of Tochigi Prefecture respectively.

Fiji’s interest in attracting tourists from Abashiri was noted, particularly given the resumption of Nadi-Narita direct flights from 3 July 2018, Fiji needs the regional connections to be made in such a way that will allow an increasing number of visitors from Japan. Ambassador Mataitoga further stressed the required Tourism PR of Fiji`s delicious food, culture, tourist spots, etc.

At the Abashiri Drift ice Museum

Both sides agreed on the need to keep track of the impact of climate changes and their effects, particularly on the agriculture, fisheries and tourism industries. Helping rural communities who are dependent on fisheries for their economic livelihood, etc. were also discussed.

Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Mayor Mizutani for the excellent discussion that has transpired and looks forward to having further discussion on a variety of areas.

Following the meeting with Mayor Mizutani, Ambassador Mataitoga visited the Drift Ice Museum, which provided an opportunity to learn about the amazing natural phenomenon drift ice and also see the effects of climate change. It is noted that watch year ice forms near the mouth of the Amur River in Russia and is carried southward by current and wind until it eventually rolls onto the coast of northern Hokkaido. Drift ice varies in its shape due to the effects of wind and tide.

Also, close by is the Abashiri Prison Museum, in which the Ambassador was advised of the history of the prisoners and the role they played in the development of Abashiri. About 800 prisoners from throughout Japan are said to be detained in this prison.