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.

Japan Envoy Fiji meets Prime Minister

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received Japan’s resident Ambassador to Fiji His Excellency Takuji Hanatani at his office on Tuesday, 21st October 2014. This was the first time that Ambassador Hanatani officially met with the Fiji Prime Minister since his posting to Fiji in May this year, 2014. The Ambassador presented his credentials to H.E. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of the Republic of Fiji on 23th May, 2014.

Ambassador Hanatani joined the Japanese Foreign Service in 1979, and since then has furthered his career in Japan’s diplomatic establishments which includes positions such as Minister in Embassy of Japan in Kenya and Belgium and Consular General of Japan in Atlanta and the United States. Prior to his posting to Fiji he served as Director General at International Affairs Department as well as the Secretariat of the House of Councillors.

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In a jovial mood, Ambassador Hanatani with Fiji Prime Minister, Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama

 

INDUCTION COURSE TO MOULD ASPIRING FIJIAN DIPLOMATS

The Public Service Commission has trained more than 193 officials in the Diplomatic Services Induction Course to ensure Fiji has qualified and competent workforce for overseas postings. The PSC Commissioner and Dean for Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, Dr Akanisi Kedrayate opened the 7th Induction Course for Diplomatic Services at the Parliamentary Complex. She said diplomats must have a good understanding of countries foreign policies, rules of engagement and negotiating skills. “As a diplomat, you will promote Fiji and protect its interests and citizens overseas and provide support and advice in the development of Fiji’s foreign policy. You need to be matured in your approach, well organised, communicate well both in writing and spoken and willing to take up posting anywhere in the world,” Kedrayate said.

A total of 46 participants from the civil service, private sector and Pacific Island Countries including the Pacific Island Development Forum members are participating in the week-long course. Participant, Ms Benny Teuei first secretary for Kiribati High Commission said the course will broaden her knowledge and skills on foreign policy and diplomacy. “It will equip us with the right knowledge and skills to prepare us in advance in the foreign policies in our governments and better understanding of diplomatic relations with other countries,” Teuei said.

His Excellency, Fiji’s Ambassador to Japan Isikeli Mataitoga, the resource person and facilitator of the course, said the course will run in a manner an overseas mission runs and participants will take an aptitude test. “The course is designed to enhance skills that they can apply and use in their own work environment. I will be looking at the punctuality, dress-code and manner in which they handle situations under pressure,” Mataitoga said.

Participants with Dr Kedrayate at the opening of the Diplomatic Services Induction Course

New Japanese Ambassador to Fiji Presents Credentials

His Excellency the President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau this morning received the credentials of the new Japanese Ambassador to Fiji His Excellency Mr Takuji Hanatani. Ambassador Hanatani was welcomed by the head of state at Government House as he presented his Letters of Credence.

The ambassador, who graduated from Ritsumeikan University under the Faculty of Law, comes in as predecessor, Mr Eiichi Oshima, completed his term this year. Mr Hanatani joined the Japanese Foreign Service in 1979 and has served at Japan’s diplomatic establishments including positions such as Minister in Embassy of Japan in Kenya, Minister in Embassy of Japan in Belgium and Consul-General of Japan in Atlanta, the Unites States.

He is also accredited to Vanuatu during this term.

New Japanese Ambassador to Fiji HE Mr Takuji Hanatani with HE President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

HE Isikeli Mataitoga Meets Mr Hiroki Miura, Chairman of Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)

Later in the afternoon of Friday 25th April 2014, HE Mr Isikeli Mataitoga called on the Chairman of Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Hiroki Miura. Mr Miura is also the President of Akita–Northern Bullets Rugby Football Club, a semi-professional outfit playing in the Japanese Top East League. The Ambassador also mentioned of Governor Satake`s offer and it was agreed that the Embassy will write to the President of Japan Rugby Football union (JRFU), Mr Yoshiro Mori, recommending Akita as a training camp-site for Fiji rugby players to improve their skill-set and build up for the Rugby World Cup tournament in 2019.

The President of Akita–Northern Bullets Rugby Football Club, Mr Hiroki Miura thanked the Ambassador for visiting and for promoting close cooperation ties between Akita and Fiji. He confirmed his full support and assistance on the issues raised, and will also follow-up with JRFU President, Mr Yoshiro Mori. During the encounter the Ambassador also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Fijian rugby players in Akita, especially Mr Setareki Tawake, who signed on for the Northern Bullets as a coach and player, however his role is not only limited to the rugby field. Mr Tawake is also the Rugby Ambassador for the city of Akita and does promotions for the city when it comes to rugby. He also visit schools and conduct training for students who are into rugby.

Also attending the meeting were local media personals who later interviewed Ambassador Mataitoga on the reasons and expectations of his visit to Akita prefecture. Further promising communication and exchanges of detailed information were noted. The Ambassador was accompanied by Second Secretary Kelera Savu, Fiji`s Honorary Consul General in Sendai, Mr Takayuki Moriya and Executive Assistant, Mr Toshiyuki Yamaguchi.

At a meeting with Akita Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman, Mr Hiroki Miura

Ambassador Mataitoga with the Akita Northern Bullets – Fijian rugby coach and players

HE Isikeli Mataitoga Meets Mr Motomu Hozumi, Mayor of Akita City

In the afternoon of Friday 25th April 2014, HE Mr Isikeli Mataitoga called on the Mayor of Akita City, Mr Motomu Hozumi. The call was convened for greater cooperation between Fiji and Akita, noting on the promotion of greater social and cultural exchange opportunities for all people and greater expansion of Sports diplomacy. The Ambassador said the visit was an opportunity for him to make a personal connection with the leaders of Akita prefecture, enhancing future ties of exchanges between our people. He said Fiji wants to have stronger ties with all of them.

Mayor Hozumi thanked the Ambassador for visiting and for promoting close cooperation ties between Akita and Fiji. He confirmed his full support and assistance on the issues raised by the Ambassador. Further promising communication and exchanges of detailed information were noted. The Ambassador was accompanied by Second Secretary Kelera Savu, Fiji`s Honorary Consul General in Sendai, Mr Takayuki Moriya and Executive Assistant, Mr Toshiyuki Yamaguchi.

Ambassador Mataitoga with Mayor Hozumi

HE Isikeli Mataitoga Meets Mr Norihisa Satake, Governor of Akita Prefecture

HE Mr Isikeli Mataitoga paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Akita prefecture, Mr Norihisa Satake on the morning of Friday 25th April 2014. The Ambassador`s visit to Akita reinforces Fiji`s commitment to enhance and strengthen relations with the Tohoku region. Enhancement of Sports diplomacy, especially rugby exchanges between Fiji and Akita was discussed at length.

Governor Satake thanked the Ambassador for visiting and for promoting close cooperation ties between Fiji and Akita. The Governor spoke greatly of the Fijian rugby players in Akita Northern Bullets Rugby Football Club and their influence to the people of Akita. Since Japan will be hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019, the Governor offered Akita as a training camp-site for Fiji rugby players to improve their skill-set and build up for the tournament.

Governor Satake also stressed that there are 26-municipalies in Akita and that they will be notified on the Ambassador`s request for sister-city relations. At the meeting, the Ambassador spoke more broadly, noting his response to the reasons of his visit to Akita prefecture, stressing on the Emperor`s advice to visit all the Japanese prefectures, promotion of greater social and cultural exchange opportunities for all people, expansion of Sports diplomacy, encouraging business ties between the Fiji and Akita, and being the first Fijian Ambassador to visit Akita prefecture.

The Ambassador said the visit was an opportunity for him to make a personal connection with the leaders of Akita prefecture, enhancing future ties with Fiji teenagers and young adults through exchanges of rugby and other opportunities. He said Fiji wants to have stronger ties with all of them. The Ambassador was accompanied by Second Secretary Kelera Savu, Fiji`s Honorary Consul General in Sendai, Mr Takayuki Moriya and Executive Assistant, Mr Toshiyuki Yamaguchi.

Ambassador Mataitoga with Governor Satake

FIJIAN ENVOY CALLS ON HE MR JEJOMAR BINAY VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

Fiji’s Non Resident Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines HE Isikeli Mataitoga who is on duty visit to the Philippines, on Monday 18 November 2013 called on HE Mr. Jejomar BINAY, Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines. The meeting took place at the Coconut Palace, the official residence and office of the Vice President. Ambassador was accompanied by Mr. Jesus Morente Pineda Jr, the newly Commissioned Honorary Consul of the Republic of Fiji to the Philippines. Ambassador took the opportunity to brief the Vice President on the latest development in the preparation for election in Fiji by September 2014.

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HE Mr Jejomar Binay Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines with Ambassador Mataitoga

HE Mr Binay expressed admiration for the work of the Fijian Soldiers who are part of UN Peacekeeping Operation in the Golan Heights, where they are posted with soldiers from the Philippines Armed Forces. The Vice President was keen to see bilateral relations between Fiji and the Philippines grow in scope and that people-to-people exchange would be the priority, to ensure that our respective peoples understand each other better. He reaffirmed the desire of the Philippine Government to finalize the draft Development Cooperation Agreement, which was proposed by Fiji and submitted through Ambassador Virginia H Benavides, Philippine Non Resident Ambassador to Fiji.

Before calling on the Vice President Binay, Ambassador Mataitoga had held meetings with senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Department for National Defence and he also traveled to Laguna Province to meet with Dr Vincent Cruz, the Chancellor of the University of the Philippines, Los Banos and met with Dr Bruce Tolentino, Deputy Director General [Communications and Partnerships] of the International Rice Research Institute [IRRI]. The outcomes of these various meetings and consultations were positive towards their collective desire to share their experience, knowledge and expertise with Fiji Government and its people. There are separate program of bilateral assistance being discussed between Fiji and each of the above departments and agencies in the Philippines, which will contribute significantly towards our specialized manpower training in agriculture, agro-business technology and research.

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Former President of the Philippines and Mayor of Manila HE Mr Joseph Estrada with Ambassador Mataitoga at Manila City Hall

Ambassador Mataitoga also called on the former President of the Philippines HE Mr Joseph Estrada, who is now, the Mayor of Metro Manila and apart from paying courtesies, it was useful in discussing city/city cooperation in areas of waste management, greening the city programs etc.

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The Honorable Mr Albert Rosario, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Honorary Consul Jesus Pineda Jr and Ambassador Mataitoga at the inauguration ceremony.

On 19 November 2013 in a special ceremony hosted by the Honorable Mr Albert F. Del Rosario, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, the newly appointed Honorary Consul of the Republic of Fiji Mr Jesus Morente PINEDA Jr, was formally inaugurated, witnessed by Ambassador Mataitoga and close family and business associates of the Honorary Consul. In separate ceremony the same day, Ambassador Mataitoga formally presented to Mr Pineda Jr, his Commission of Appointment as Honorary Consul of the Republic of Fiji.