Meeting with Director Japan Pacific Islands Centre (PIC)

HE Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga convened a meeting with Mr. Kazuyoshi OGAWA, the Director for Pacific Islands Centre (PIC) Japan and his Deputy Director Mr. Kurosaki on Wednesday, 14th January at FET. The meeting purposed to discuss Japan’s development interventions pertinent to the region’s sustainable development including respective island states’ priorities. The Ambassador underlined that the Pacific region cannot be a unified group simply because of the geopolitics and diversities of the respective island economies. Hence, the pursuit to request Japan to redesign and tailor its ODA projects and modalities to PICs development needs to ensure its maximum impact. He added that this year Fiji intends to strategise a Japan PICs business trade meeting collaboratively with PICs as means to propel PICs business prospects in Japan. The Centre could assist by identifying and producing a list of Japanese companies either as current importers or investors including prospective businessmen as potential participants.

FET wishes to pursue and identify development projects in Fiji desirable for Japanese businesses. Agro-business is an area of high prospects and interest for Japanese entrepreneurs to undertake in Fiji. Some have expressed interest in exploring horticulture imports from Fiji – rose and sochu production from sweet potatoes etc. Sideline meeting in the margins of the PALM 7 for PICs Leaders and Japanese Corporate leaders such as JAPIA, JETRO including business icons to discuss economic cooperation prospects was zealously discussed. The notion to bring in Fijian tourism and business affiliates to Japan to undertake tourism promotion was also noted. The Ambassador thanked Mr. Ogawa and Mr. Kurosaki for the invaluable exchanges.

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Ambassador Mataitoga, Counsellor Korovou, Mr. Ogawa and Mr. Kurosaki

 

Meeting with HE Mr John FRITZ, Ambassador of the Federated States of Micronesia to Japan

A meeting between Ambassador John Fritz and Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga was held on Tuesday 13 January 2015 at the Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia. The meeting is the second in a series that Ambassador Mataitoga is undertaking in the month of January to review bilateral relations and discuss how to improve where needed. These series of meeting is also to explain Fiji’s position on issues that need clarification and where support is needed in areas where Fiji is engaging with Japan.

There were three core issues that were discussed between the two Ambassadors which Fiji raised and seeks the support of the Federated States of Micronesia:

  1. Incorporating market access for goods and services from Pacific Island Countries to Japan on to the agenda of the PALM 7 Meeting;
  2. Renewal of the Pacific Environment Fund [PEC Fund]; and
  3. Tourism promotion for PICs in Japan.

Both Ambassador’s agree that the above issues should be discussed during the PALM 7 SOM and for it to be substantially included in the PALM 7 agenda for Leaders. The meeting was useful in sensitizing FSM about some of the issues that Fiji would like to include as part of PALM 7.

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HE Mr John Fritz with HE Mr Isikeli Mataitoga

 

Meeting with HE Mr Gabriel DUSAVA, Ambassador of the Papua New Guinea and Chair of the Pacific Islands Ambassadorial Group in Japan

A meeting between HE Mr. Gabriel Dusava CBE, Ambassador of Papua New Guinea and Chair of the PIC Ambassadorial Group in Japan and HE Mr Isikeli Mataitoga was held on 7 January 2015 in the Chancery of the Embassy of Papua New Guinea. The meeting was requested by Ambassador Mataitoga, to discuss the following issues in the build up to the PALM 7 Meeting scheduled to take place in Iwaki City, Fukushima in May 2015:

  1. Incorporating market access for goods and services from Pacific Island Countries to Japan on to the agenda of the PALM 7 Meeting;
  2. Renewal of the Pacific Environment Fund [PEC Fund]; and
  3. Tourism promotion for PICs in Japan.

The two Ambassadors also discussed possible ways to engage the Japanese Government to undertake more high level political leaders exchange visit to Fiji. They noted that these visits when undertaken by political leaders of countries, often is the best catalyst to in attracting more interest in business development, leading to more investment. They also agree to meet at least 2 or 3 times a year to review how to cooperate in influencing Japan towards priority interests for PICs.

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HE Mr Gabriel Dusava with HE Mr Isikeli Mataitoga

 

Japan Fisheries Association New Year Reception

The Japan Fisheries Association New Year’s Reception was held on Tuesday, 6th January 2015 at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo whereby more than 200 people were in attendance. Notable were the presence of many Members of Parliament who came to brace the occasion as well as to render their support for the organization for their contribution in the country’s economic wellbeing. Counsellor Julia Korovou and First Secretary Jovesa Vocea attended the reception on behalf of FET.

Established in 1882, the Japan Fisheries Association is the umbrella organization for the entire fishing industry of Japan with more than 400 members including associations, private companies and individuals who contribute to the operation of the organization. In delivering his keynote address, Mr. Toshiro Shirasu, President of the Association alluded to the main purpose of the organization which is to promote the fishing industry and contribute to the economic sector and cultural heritage of the country. He further stated that the contribution by members of the association is greatly recognized and acknowledged which has seen Japan as one of the world’s largest fishing fleets and accounts of nearly 15% of the global catch.

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Counsellor Korovou also had a chance to meet with Mr. Shirazu

Prime Minister Bainimarama sends congratulatory message to his Japanese counterpart.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has offered the country’s assistance in allowing Japan extend and enhance its relations in the Pacific region. In a congratulatory note on the re-election of Shinzo Abe as Prime Minister of Japan, Bainimarama said Fiji and Japan have before them similar tasks, goals and challenges which add to the necessity of intensifying bilateral relations to promote peace, security and goodwill in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We also have shared goals in the sustainable development of the people we were elected to serve” Bainimarama said. He added that in the context of Japan’s relations with the Pacific Island countries, Fiji is ready to assist Japan in ensuring that the goals you desire in deepening your relations with the region is achieved. Bainimarama also reaffirmed the country’s commitment to deepen and further existing relations with Japan.

“I write to express my warmest and most sincere congratulation on your appointment as Prime Minister of Japan, following the success of your political party in the recent election for the House of Representatives in the Japanese Parliament”, Bainimarama said.

“Considering the great importance in maintaining the excellent relations that exist between our two countries, I am convinced that during your term in office that we will deepen these further to the mutual benefit of our respective governments and people” Bainimarama concluded.

Asia Environment and Economic Forum

Representing 16 countries from across the Asia-Pacific region, over 45 green policy makers, businessmen and representatives of associations and academia responsible for promoting green technology, green business and eco-products and services converged in Tokyo from 10-12 December 2014 as part of the Asia Environment and Economic Forum. Facilitated by the Asian Productivity Organization [APO], the seminar was a special project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. His Excellency Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga and First Secretary Jovesa Vocea attended the first day of the three days programme that was held at Hotel Nikko in Tokyo, Japan.

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Ambassador Mataitoga with APO Secretary General, Mr. Mari Amano

In delivering the welcome remarks, the Secretary General of APO, Mr. Mari Amano alluded to the objective of the seminar which was to share best practices in green policy and business from Japan and establish potential collaborations among APO delegates and local participants. SG Amano also highlighted that APO has been promoting Green Productivity [GP] in the Asia-Pacific region since 1994. He mentioned that GP measures that had been undertaken included numerous demonstration projects, international and regional forums, workshops and seminars as such held in member countries over the past decade.

An important topic titled “Impact of Climate Change and Policy Initiatives” was delivered by Mr. Dinesh Singh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India. His presentation was divided into four parts in an effort to explain the Impact of Climate Change and Policy Initiatives in an objective and simple manner. Part 1 focused mainly on the overview and the meaning of important terminologies relating to the subject matter. Part 2 articulated on the salient details of the Major International Initiatives such as the UNFCC Convention-Kyoto Protocol-Bali Road Map-Cancun Agreements-Durban Outcomes-Doha Climate Gateway and Warsaw Outcomes.

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Ambassador Mataitoga and FS Vocea with officials and participants

Part 3 of Mr. Sigh’s presentation provided an illustration of National and Regional Programmes and brief details of the National Action Plan on Climate Change of India which was adopted in 2008 with eight [8] National Missions as follows which will run up to 2017: [1] National Solar Mission [2] National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency [3] National Mission on Sustainable Habitat [4] National Water Mission [5] National Mission for Green India [6] National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and [8] National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change. The concluding part of his presentation centered on human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases which cause enhanced greenhouse effect that leads to global warming and consequent climate change.

The subject of “Green Productivity, Green Economic Growth and Sustainable Society” was presented Mr. Ryoichi Yamamoto, Specially Appointed Professor at Tokyo Coty University. He reminded participants that we are living in the “Anthropocene Age” where the earth is at the tipping point. Green Productivity has been pushing eco design, green-manufacturing and environmental management. Last but not the least, Green Economic Growth should be made within the doughnut [planetary and social boundaries] while Sustainable Public Procurement will play an essentially important role in Green Growth.

 

Consultations with Mr. Hiroshi Matsumoto, Director of Business Development of the Mana Island Resort & Spa, Fiji

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(l-r) Mr Matsumoto and Ambassador Mataitoga

The Director of Business Development for MANA Island Resort & Spa, Fiji held consultations with the Ambassador, HE Mr Isikeli Mataitoga on Monday 8th December 2014, to discuss tourism promotional cooperation as lead up to the direct flights in early 2016.

It was informed that Mr Matsumoto will also hold consultation with Japan`s Ambassador to Fiji, HE Mr Takuji Hanatani on how they can increase Japanese tourists to Fiji. Following Ambassador`s advice, Mr Matsumoto noted that he will also discuss with Fiji`s Tourism Minister, the Honorable Mr Faiyaaz Koya on the direct flights and 2015 charter flights cooperation with Travel Agents such as JTB and ST World. However, a concern raised is that unpopular charter flights may affect Fiji Airways consideration for 2016 direct flights.

Mr Matsumoto advised that Japan is a matured market compared to other Asian markets, and that many young Japanese are travelling a lot nowadays and MANA is seeing this as an opportunity. For instance, MANA will conduct a major renovation in January 2015, and their investment for internal scholarship of $FJ20-30,000FJ a year towards their staff training programme. He also mentioned on the Pure Fiji advices which he will convey to HCG Moriya, stressing that it is very important to note on the Japanese Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, together with regulations and costly procedural requirements at the time of importation. Pure Fiji is looking for Japanese Spa products distributor for their world-famous range of natural beauty products.

The Ambassador also noted that following the Sunday, 14 December 2014 election, the Embassy will once again approach relevant personnel including MOFA Economic Affairs Bureau, Director-General to discuss on the above. He also assured Mr Matsumoto that the Embassy remains consistent in its assistance towards him and the MANA Island Resort & Spa, Fiji.

Ambassador Mataitoga Presents on “Climate Change and its Effects on Island States – Fijian Experience” to United Nations University Graduate Students, UNU HQ in Tokyo

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Participants at the UNU Seminar

On Thursday 4th December 2014, H.E. Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga conducted a seminar on “Climate Change and its effects on island states: Fijian Experience” in Tokyo. SS Savu was also in attendance.

This seminar investigates the current effects of climate change and sea level rise present significant risks to the sustainable development of Small Islands Developing States and the long term effects that have threatened the very existence of some small islands, in particular reference to Fiji.

A brief overview of Fiji and its Climate Change impacts was initially outlined. The Q&A discussion then focuses on the challenges and the Guiding Policies made available to address rising issues. Climate change and rising sea level which currently present significant risks to the sustainable development of SIDS.

It was noted that climate change is seen as an economic issue, as a security issue and bigger players should certainly look into areas of tackling these through variety of forums such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Lima, Peru from 1–12 December 2014. The negotiators in Lima are now focusing on a draft agreement that can be refined before the meeting in Paris next year, 2015.

It is suggested that bigger players will have to play more roles, and make good promises of financing to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change impacts, which range from the spread of diseases to coastal flooding to major disruptions to agriculture and marine resources. Although climate change impacts may not be felt equally across the planet, it is an inherently global issue.

 

Fiji Seminar at Shukutoku Gakuen Junior & Senior High School

On Wednesday, 3 December 2014, TCO Iki Kawabata accompanied by Mrs. Vocea made Fiji Seminar at School day event of Shukutoku Gakuen Junior & Senior High School in Tokyo. Morning session was for Senior High School Students with1,129 in attendance and afternoon session was for Junior High School Students attended to by 552 students with the purpose of leaning about different country’s culture, tradition, history, way of living, people, food, relation with Japan, for their international study as well as deepen friendship with Fiji. Both the sessions started by 30 minutes Buddhism Mass followed by School Principals’ speech. After his speech Mrs. Vocea was introduced and made short greeting speech followed by TCO’s 60 minutes PP presentation on Fiji. The event started 09:30 and finished at 16:00.

Shukutoku Gakuen Senior High School has special class for students who go abroad to study English. U.S.A. England, Australia and New Zealand are present main countries and Mr. Mishima, School Principle interested in nominating Fiji as for studying country in future.

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TCO Iki Kawabata and Mrs. Vocea at Shukutoku Gakuen School

Seminar on “Recent Trends in Pacific Regionalism and the Role of Japan”

More than 200 people attended the seminar jointly hosted by the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund and the Embassy of the Republic of Fiji in Tokyo on the topic “Recent Trends in Pacific Regionalism and the Role of Japan”. The seminar was held at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation building on Thursday, 27th November 2014. Turnout exceeded the sitting capacity of the meeting venue and illustrates the importance of the subject matter to the people of Japan. Fourty [40] percent of the attendees were from the Private Sector and the rest were academics, NGOs, students and diplomats. Support from the Pacific Island Embassies in Japan was also evident with four [4] of the Ambassadors including the Dean in attendance. The guest speakers were: Dr Michael O’Keefe, Senior Lecturer, Department if international Studies, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia; and Mr Feleti TEO, Secretary General, Pacific Island Development Forum [PIDF], Suva, Fiji.

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Turnout at the FET/SPF Seminar

While delivering his opening remarks, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga alluded to the subject to be explored in the seminar, in an open and candid exchange of views, the evolving regionalism that is taking place among Pacific Island Countries [PICs] and the role Japan may play within that. PICs are seeking new and more innovative ways to engage new partners in their sustainable development. As they engage in this new process of review, they are asking difficult but often necessary questions about the relevance and effectiveness of existing regional architecture in meeting the development aspirations of the Pacific islands people and communities.

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Ambassador Mataitoga delivering his opening remarks

Ambassador Mataitoga further added that Japan has been and continues to be a close and important partner of Pacific Island Countries in achieving their development goals. The principal framework in which Japan engages with PIC is through its development assistance program, delivered through the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA]. However, existing regional bodies serving PICs have all in recent times undergone review to determine whether they are still true to their mandate to serve the development aspirations of people of the Pacific Island Countries.

The outcome of these reviews, the latest being the Report of the Eminent Persons Group [EPG] on the Review of the Pacific Plan, Chaired by Sir Makere Morauta of PNG, concluded that there is a need for a new regional architecture for PICs; one which is inclusive of all development stakeholders and which addresses real development priorities as decided by the people themselves and not the policy imperatives of overseas development assistance, which sometime is divergent to local needs. Another major factor is that that a new regional architecture is needed due to the tectonic shift in the geopolitical interest shown by major powers of the world in PICs region.

While stressing the point of the need to review the aid delivery mechanism in the Pacific, Ambassador Mataitoga hinted on the recent visit to Fiji by Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Xi Ping of China. This comes after the visit of the Indonesian President in July 2014 and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sergey Lavrov in February 2012. In addition the region have seen high level political leaders from Korea, Malaysia, UAE, Qatar, Brazil, France etc visiting the region all in the space of last 12-18 months. How do the PICs engage proactively with these developments so that each of the PICs and their people benefit from these engagements? Therefore, it is imperative to find a new regional architecture that would provide the capacity to manage these new developments, and the multilateral goals being pursued by Pacific Small Island Development States [PSIDS] in the various United Nations forums, especially on Climate Change and Adaptation.

It is against this developing regional and geopolitical context that Japan will have to manage its future role. So Japan really needs to project a much higher profile and more intense role in the emerging regional architecture for Pacific Island Countries. It needs to do this because first and foremost, it is in Japan’s security interest, both human and in contributing to a peaceful environment in the Asia-Pacific Region, to so. Japan’s new role should support sustainable development of PICs. As regards the latter, Japan must ensure that its engagement modality is not limited to the traditional approach but it needs to be a more flexible approach to address specific issues of concern for its Pasifika partners. Japan must regularly engage at high political level with PICs in the region to increase its visibility – creating new awareness is necessary for good relations between governments and for people to people exchanges.

The seminar was divided into two parts with session 1 which was moderated by Ambassador Mataitoga dwelled on the topic “Pacific Regionalism and Pacific Island Country Partnership”. Mr Feleti Teo delivered the keynote address and provided an overview of the newest regional institution in the Pacific, the Pacific Island Development Forum [PIDF], key motivations for its establishment; the roles it will play; and its relationship with other regional actors in the ever evolving and dynamic regional architecture in the Pacific. Session 2 was moderated by Dr. Izumi Kobayashi, President of the Japan Pacific Islands Association with the topic of “Towards Enhanced Economic Partnership and the Role of Japan”. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Michale O’Keefe who is an expert in Pacific Regionalism. He articulated on the normative of aid delivery in the Pacific and how aid paradigm has shifted over the years with the new players in the market which depicts that the regional architecture in now under severe pressure to find an alternative solution. A classic example he quoted was Japan which used to be the number 2 donor of aid delivery to the Paicific during periods 1980s-90s. This has relatively declined from year 2000 onwards following the rise of China, Russia, Middle East Countries and now India’s influence in aid and bilateral delivery in the Pacific.

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Mr Feleti Teo delivering his keynoted address

The views and exchanges generated from the seminar will no doubt assist relevant policy makers in Japan in their work as they begin to rebuild their engagement policy.

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Dr Michael O’Keefe delivering his keynote address

 The PICs are not a homogenous community of nations – they are diverse in terms of their economies, population size, capacity constraints to handle their own development etc. Development partners must tailor their assistance to meet the development needs of the respective peoples concerned: one size does not fit all. New synergies need to be developed with creative financing development models that is beneficial to all and which is based on south-south cooperation. This is not a pipers dream. If we are resolved and focused, we will be able to find the answers to the challenges of ‘smallness’ that PSIDS now face.

As Prime Minister Bainimarama recently stated: Fiji is open for business and extends an invitation to all people of goodwill to invest in Fiji. The Embassy under took this project as it seeks to ‘Push Boundaries in Service Delivery’ through directly engaging with the Japanese private sector representatives, senior government officials, diplomats, representatives of Community Based Organizations, Academia etc. in Japan.

Sincere appreciation on behalf of the Embassy of the Republic of Fiji in Japan and the Government of Fiji as a whole to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan for co-sponsoring this seminar. Without their financial and logistical support this seminar would not have eventuated.