The Tachikawa International Friendship Festival 2013

The Tachikawa International Friendship Festival is an annual event hosted at the Green Culture Zone, Showa Memorial Park in Tachikawa City, Tokyo on Sunday 3rd November and Monday 4th November 2013. Organized by the Tachikawa City Office and Tachikawa Multicultural Centre, over one hundred thousand visitors attended the two-day spectacular event. It was an event of food, drinks, live music and most importantly fun for all participants who were there to promote friendship relations.

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The Fiji Embassy together with other diplomatic missions resident in Tokyo were the featured participants, inspiring visitors to try out the different food delicacies and beautiful tourist attractions they offer. The Fiji Embassy has been participating at this international festival since 2008 and part of Embassy efforts to connect and market Fiji at the community level in Japan.

Fiji’s participation included a booth for promotion of Fiji food and handicraft products. The Embassy noted on the growing interest on Fiji food and Pure Fiji products displayed at the Fiji promotion booth during its one day participation.

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With a chance to interact with community members and captivating stage performances by many, it was truly an opportunity for the public to witness the working together of various NGO groups, Diplomatic groups, as well as other Japanese members in further promoting friendly and multicultural exchanges.

JOCA NEW YEAR RECEPTION

The Embassy of the Republic of Fiji in Tokyo was once again invited by the President of the Japan Overseas Cooperative Association (JOCA) to attend their 2013 New Year party which was held at the National Olympic Memorial Youth Centre on Saturday, 26 January 2013. Representatives from the Government of Japan, Diplomatic Missions in Tokyo, former JICA volunteers and other private/government organizations attended the event.

(L-R) SS Kelera Wright, Ms Kuniko Inoguchi (House of Councillors) and FS Jovesa Vocea

(L-R) SS Kelera Wright, Ms Kuniko Inoguchi (House of Councillors) and FS Jovesa Vocea

Delivering the Keynote Address was Ms Kuniko INOGUCHI, the Member of Councillors, National Diet of Japan Representing Chiba Prefecture. The program was very exciting especially when members of the Diplomatic Corp in Japan were able to meet and share stories with former JICA volunteers who had served in their respective countries. Representing the Fiji Embassy were First Secretary Jovesa Vocea and Second Secretary Kelera Wright. About 300 guests attended the event.

(L-R) FS Vocea, Mr Kunio Umeda, DG International Cooperation Bureau and SS Wright

(L-R) FS Vocea, Mr Kunio Umeda, DG International Cooperation Bureau and SS Wright

Signing of MOU with OISCA

A significant occasion for both the Government of the Republic of Fiji and the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement, International Japan (OISCA) eventuated on Friday, 25 January 2013 when both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an extension for a period of five years from the date of signature. His Excellency Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga signed on behalf of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the relevant agency in Fiji whilst Ms Yoshiko Nakano, the President of OISCA International, Japan signed on behalf of the organization.

Ambassador Mataitoga and Ms Yoshiko Nakano [OISCA President] during the signing of the MOU

Ambassador Mataitoga and Ms Yoshiko Nakano [OISCA President] during the signing of the MOU

After the signing ceremony, Ambassador Mataitoga expressed deep appreciation on behalf of the Government of Fiji to OISCA for their contribution in reducing poverty in rural Fiji. The extension of their programme for another five years will surely augur well with the intention of Government as well as the objective of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce poverty. Ambassador reassured Ms Nakano that OISCA is the only NGO that is doing what it is suppose to be doing in Fiji. To reciprocate, the President of OISCA thanked the Government of Fiji for honoring their contractual agreement in the past and assured that the organization will continue to deliver what is expected from them as enshrined in the MOU. That is to provide trainings to empower rural youths, makes experts available to provide technical guidance and other educational opportunities, award scholarships for technical training to Fiji youths at OISCA approved training centers in Japan, advises and supports OISCA graduates in community development projects and supports environmental conservation activities as effective tools for environmental education.

The 25th Ship for World Youth (SWY25)

A welcome party for the National Delegation for participating countries in the SWY25 was held on Thursday, 24 January 2013 at the Ana Intercontinental Hotel Ball Room in Minato-ku, Tokyo. There were altogether one-hundred (100) participating youths from ten (10) countries including Fiji, Kingdom of Bahrain, Republic of Chile, Republic of Costa Rica, Republic of Kenya, United Mexican States, New Zealand, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Republic of Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Japan. After twelve (12) days of stay in Japan, the group will embark on “SWY25” with 117 Japanese participating youths and leave Tokyo Port on February 4, 2013 bound for Okinawa, Kobe and Ofunato.

In welcoming the Youths from participating countries, Ms Masako Mori, the Minister of State for Measures for Declining Birthrate who is also the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety as well as holding the portfolio of Minister for State for Gender Equality, encouraged the youths to make use of the opportunity to interact and learn a lot from their Japanese counterpart, especially their culture and food. She also reminded them to bear in mind the objective of the programme and that is “to foster the spirit of international cooperation and competence to practice it as well as to promote friendship and mutual understanding between the youths of Japan and those from various countries around the world”.

Chief Guest, Ms Masako Mori delivering keynote address

Chief Guest, Ms Masako Mori delivering keynote address

Representing the Fiji Embassy in the event were First Secretary Jovesa Vocea, Second Secretary Kelera Wright and PA Sereana Tabuyaqona. It was a good time for them to meet and mix around with the representatives from Fiji and at the same time giving them valuable advises to be good ambassadors of their country during the trip.

FS Vocea, SS Wright and PA Tabuyaqona with Fiji Participants in the SWY25

FS Vocea, SS Wright and PA Tabuyaqona with Fiji Participants in the SWY25

The international youth exchange program of the Cabinet Office originally started in 1959 when it implemented the “Japanese Youth Goodwill Mission Program” which the then Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke had proposed personally in order to commemorate the marriage of H.M. the Emperor. In 1967, the “Japanese Youth Goodwill Cruise Program” started as one of the projects to commemorate the Centennial of the Meiji Restoration. The program was then upgraded to the “Ship for World Youth Program” in 1988, and had continued until today.

Kizuna Project Links Japan and Pacific Island Countries

Kizuna which means ‘Bonds of Friendship’ is a unique project designed to help build connections between the youths of Japan and the youths of 14 Pacific Island Countries (PICs). Under this project, high school and university students from around the Pacific region were provided with fully-funded two-week study tour to Japan. The first batches of students from Cook Islands, Niue, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, Palau, Kiribati and Tuvalu have returned from Japan. Currently, participants from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands are under-going their trip and the group were accorded with a welcome dinner organized by their respective embassies in Japan on Monday evening, 3 December 2012.

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Participants from Fiji with Counsellor Korovou, FS Vocea and SS Savu

Representatives from the Embassies of Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Fiji took turns each in giving short speeches of welcome as well as encougarements to the group. For Fiji Embassy, Counsellor Korovou urged the youths to take advantage of all the opportunities and exposure provided through this programme. They must strive to learn a lot from their Japanese counterparts as the Kizuna project is a platform for the Pacific Island countries to develop their human resources capacity and skills. All the speakers for the evening empahasized to the pacific youths the need to learn a lot from the Japanese experience as they are not only well advanced technologically but their virtue of respect for another and discipline ranks them very high globally.

Fiji Embassy holds Trade and Investment Promotion Seminar in Sendai City

The Fiji Embassy in Tokyo conducted a Trade and Investment Seminar in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture on Wednesday, 28 November 2012.  As the first ever program as such to be held in Sendai City, the turnout was overwhelming attracting 86 Japanese businessmen and women. The seminar was the joint effort of the staff of the Fiji Embassy in Tokyo and a group of Japanese businessman from Miyagi Prefecture. Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga in making an opening statement to the seminar stressed the importance of further deepening business relations between Japan and Fiji.

In visiting Miyagi Prefecture, Ambassador Mataitoga emphasized the existing relations Fiji has established with the Tohuku Region of Japan. This was when the Bainimarama Government offered 20 scholarships to high school and university students from Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures who were affected by the Earthquake and Tsunami of 11/03/2011 to study in Fiji for 12 months. He also highlighted the value of people to people exchange in the cultural, education and sports field to start the initial process of more visits from Miyagi to Fiji in 2013.

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Ambassador Mataitoga addressing the participants at the seminar

The other presentation made at the seminar covered investment assistance outlined in the 2013 Budget announcement by the Bainimarama government and an overview of the economic profile of Fiji since 2006, highlighting the latest economic data which shows Fiji’s economy growing at a higher rate that was previously estimated. Then there were presentations from two Japanese businessmen who are doing business in Fiji and sharing their businesses and why they decided to start their business there. The seminar was followed by a reception in which participants had an opportunity to discuss issues they wish to raise with Ambassador and other Embassy staff in attendance. The support provided by the Miyagi Prefecture Leading LDP Member of House of Representatives in the Japanese Parliament Hon. Mr Kenya Akiba at the seminar was much appreciated.

Areas of potential businesses that were discussed which need dedicated follow-ups are as follows:

  • A group of Japanese Tour Operators from Miyagi are hoping to take visitors to Fiji in 2013 and the number they are looking at is around 300 initially. They will organize tours from Miyagi using culture and school sports tournament as the focus
  • Automobile Recycles business is looking at opening operations in Fiji in 2013
  • Water sports is likely to be explored
  • There were serious interests in High School students going to Fiji for their high school education

International Friendship Festival 2012 in Takanezawa, Tochigi Prefecture

The International Friendship Exchange Festival in Takanezawa hosted its annual event at the Genki-up Mura in Takanezawa town, Tochigi prefecture on Sunday 11th November 2012. Organized by the Takanezawa International Exchange Association for the purpose of international exchanges among the local and foreign citizens in Takanezawa town, the four hour event was enjoyed by everyone.

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Master Leone and Master Waisea entertaining the crowd

Led by the Fiji Embassy Tokyo, Fiji’s participation included a booth for promotion of Fiji food and handicraft products, and performances of Fijian cultural items such as “meke”, “taralala” and Fijian hymn songs. The Embassy also took advantage of the opportunity and introduce on Fiji`s basic information. It was a tremendous opportunity to further promote people to people exchanges and to showcase glimpses of the Fiji hospitality and the genuine culture that Fiji and its people are renowned for.

Following the event, Takanezawa Town Council hosted a lunch as well as tea party as a token of appreciation to all participants from respective countries.

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The Embassy remains optimistic on further strengthening relations with Takanezawa as part of our efforts to build up people to people contacts with Japan through the medium of sister relations between cities and towns in Japan with those in Fiji.

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FET Staff with TTC Staff & Friends and families of Fiji

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Following the event, a short-break at Master Leone and Master Waisea Home in Hoshakuji, Takanezawa Town