Fiji’s Honorary Consul in Beppu, Hokkaido, Mr. Chikayuki Shimizu, returned from Fiji last Monday, 18 April 2022. He visited the Embassy to give an update to the Charge d’ Affaires. HC Shimizu’s company, Hokusyo Co. Ltd., specializes in the automotive-related business.
Please refer below are the requirements for obtaining a Fijian e-Passport:Requirements-for-Fijian-e-Passports
Fellow Ministers and Representatives of the Government of Japan;
Chairman, Japan External Trade Organisation;
Fellow Ministers from the Pacific and Government representatives;
Participating Private Sector Representatives;
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat;
Participants of the Forum;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Ohayo-gozaimas, Bula Vinaka, and warm greetings from the Pacific.
It gives me great pleasure to be representing the Pacific at this third Japan and Pacific Islands Economic Forum, in my capacity as the Chair of the Forum Trade Ministers.
Trade and Investment plays an increasingly critical role in the growth of Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and has led to the development of many essential sectors, both in goods and services.
The increase in the level of exports to and investments from trading partners such as Japan, supports PICs in creating income and employment and strengthens domestic private sector development through transfers of technology and know-how of management.
The PICs are able to strengthen their position through this bilateral trade and economic platform. The continued commitment of Japan provides the PICs a foundation to launch into the global trade arena.
The PICs exports to Japan increased by 114.3 per cent from US$1.4 billion in 2008 to $3 billion in 2019. Exports were dampened, to $2.25 billion, in 2020, which can be attributed to the impact of the pandemic on the supply chain and transportation network.
As of 2020, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji are the top three PICs exporters to Japan, however, there is potential for other PICs to create a niche in the Japanese market.
Today’s Forum not only is an opportunity for the business community to share their interests, but also for the PICs to share policies, incentives, reforms and future plans for economic recovery.
The event compliments the role of Forum Trade Ministers, who have the mandate of setting the regional vision to attract trade and investments. Whilst ensuring there is a conducive business climate for private sector investments to flourish in the Pacific.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
None of us here today needs reminding of the mayhem that we have endured in the past two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Decades of economic growth have spiraled downwards. However, there are opportunities that have been spurred by this adversity.
This is an opportune forum for us to reflect on the confronting challenges that the pandemic has brought. But more importantly to seek and explore ways to truly strengthen collaboration between Japan and Pacific businesses in an attempt towards economic recovery and rebuilding efforts.
I wish to convey appreciation on behalf of the Pacific nations, to Japan, for standing with us during the pandemic and providing necessary assistance, including vaccines. Japan, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has pledged to assist 10 PICs, with a USD 9 million contribution to boost a vaccine-powered economic recovery in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Japan has been a longstanding partner for the region and host of many international exhibitions, trade shows, and seminars to continue the promotion and marketing of Pacific products and businesses.
They also have a strong presence in the region through agencies such as JICA, JETRO, Pacific Trade and Invest (PT&I) and the Pacific Islands Centre. These agencies support Pacific businesses by facilitating access to the Japanese market. They gather market intelligence, facilitate support and business-to-business connections between Japanese and Pacific entrepreneurs.
These bodies add to industry development, capacity building, resource enhancement and facilitate investment in areas that utilise Japan’s strengths – such as, renewable energy, environment (waste management, marine plastics, water, disaster prevention) and health and medical care. The Pacific looks forward to learning more and working in collaboration with these organisations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In addition to the above, the 2021 Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM), further discussed and enhanced the agenda to expand this partnership.
Our Leaders discussed five priority areas at the PALM, which included:
● COVID-19 response,
● sustainable oceans,
● climate change and disaster resilience,
● strengthening foundations for sustainable & economic development, and
● human resources development.
Each of these priorities are critical contributors and components for the growth of a strong and healthy economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Forum today paves the way forward and into the future. We will be able to identify opportunities, and areas where to combine efforts, pool resources and mobilise collective action to benefit the region.
The business-to-business interactions will allow for expansion beyond traditional sectors of tourism, apparel, agriculture, fisheries. It will enable growing entities, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises, to venture into other untapped areas, such as cultural and creative industries, renewables, waste management, to name a few.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Work is underway in many PICs in terms of review of investment frameworks. In addition, reforms are being undertaken to improve doing business policies, to enable Japanese businesses to invest in the Pacific.
Fiji, amongst other PICs, is leading the way in these reforms. Earlier this year, the Fijian Parliament passed the Investment Act, which is benchmarked on international best practices and is considered a trailblazer in the region.
Furthermore, the Fijian Government, through my Ministry, is coordinating the move to a digitalised platform for applications and approval. This process has been started with an online business portal called bizfiji.com, which is now being developed into a full-fledged online approvals portal.
I wanted to share the Fijian experience to give the Japanese business community an understanding of how the Pacific is progressing and embracing technology. We have a talented and educated workforce. And we have the vigour to explore opportunities in new and emerging sectors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Pacific is a growing location for businesses with transportation and communication links that makes it an attractive investment location.
The Pacific’s warm people, its tropical climate, natural pristine environment, steadily developing infrastructure, pro-business policies and legislation makes PICs an ideal destination for business.
With these words, I wish you all a successful forum and look forward to its outcome.
(Source: Fijian Government Website)
[2 September 2021] Virtual Seminar on ‘Human Rights and Diplomacy: The right mix for the Indo-Pacific’ hosted by the University of Tasmania, Australian Institute of International Affairs, and the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade of Australia.
Please see the following link:
Also, those who are interested in the streamed lectures can get more information here.
Island of Ideas YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/IslandofIdeas.
Fiji Embassy Tokyo (FET) Newsletter Third Edition
In light of the third state of emergency declared in Tokyo and three other urban prefectures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Fiji Embassy Tokyo has commenced limited appointments for passport, visa, and some other consular issues as well as for other FET related services.
For Consular Services – Appointments are scheduled, and Applicants should contact Second Secretary Mr. Ashneel Shankar on Ashneel.Shankar@fijiembassy.jp to schedule any of the consular appointments, from 11.00am – 1.00pm, Monday to Wednesday only.
For Other FET Related Services – Appointments are scheduled, and Visitors should contact First Secretary Ms. Kelera Savu on Kelera.Savu@fijiembassy.jp to schedule any of the Other FET Related Services appointments, from 11.00am – 1.00pm, Wednesday to Friday only.
Due to COVID-19, consular services applicants will experience delays in appointment availability. If applicants have an urgent reason to apply for any consular services, they may request an urgent appointment with SS Shankar.
The Fiji Embassy Tokyo follows strict practices on wear masks, hand-sanitizer, and social distancing to help protect the health and safety of our staff and the public. Any applicant or visitor with COVID-19 symptoms should reschedule their appointment by contacting the relevant officers directly.
Vinaka vakalevu, Arigato gozaimasu.
Back on the 18th of April, we clinically confirmed our 18th case of COVID-19. This was in the midst of our response to the devastation of severe Cyclone Harold, which had ripped across our islands the week prior, levelling homes and flooding communities.
With two national disasters threatening the lives of Fijians at once, Fiji was faced with a dilemma the likes of which we’d never seen. We declared two simultaneous States of Natural Disaster, kicking off a month-long, whole-of-government campaign to assist those in the path of the storm’s wrath without compromising any of our life-saving progress in our war against the coronavirus.
By adapting our cyclone response to the reality of COVID-19, we’ve saved lives on the frontlines of both existential threats. Even as Fijians evacuated their communities and authorities dispatched to badly-hit regions during TC Harold, not a single case of coronavirus was spread as a result of the storm. And this week, following these achievements, these States of Natural Disaster have not been extended.
If no new cases are recorded tomorrow, that will mark four full weeks without a new case of COVID-19. The experts tell us those 28 days represent two full incubation periods for the coronavirus. That means that over this period, if the virus was passed to any close contacts of our existing patients, our tests would confirm it. Even as we’ve continued to conduct over 1,000 more tests over these four weeks, every morning, every one of those tests has come back negative. On top of that victory, we’re also confirming our 15th full recovery of the virus, meaning only three active cases remain.
Fiji is now well on our way to eliminating COVID-19 entirely, and we’re one of the few nations on Earth who can make that claim. Our progress has come not from fortune, but through foresight; every step taken was swift, every decision made was decisive, and every success we’ve recorded has been well-earned.
But much as this feels like a moment of celebration –– as it should –– the end of these declarations does not mean Fiji is entirely rid of this virus. We still have Fijians in government funded quarantine facilities who could yet develop the disease. As tight as our safety nets may be –– there is always a chance that an asymptomatic case has slipped through undetected. We have no evidence to suggest this is the case, but it is still a risk we must consider, because all it takes is one case, one super-spreader, to provoke a Fijian epidemic of COVID-19.
From the beginning, we’ve armed ourselves with only the best available medical information. As the medical community’s knowledge of this virus has evolved, so has our response. It would be easy for me to stand here today and declare total victory over this virus. It would be easy to say this war has been completely won and roll-back every health protection directive in one fell-swoop. But we can never settle for “easy” with a virus this devastating and unpredictable. We have no choice but to continue treating this invisible enemy with deadly seriousness.
As I speak, China is already seeing a second wave of infections and Europe is bracing for the same. We cannot risk a second wave of Fijian infections; that is why, for the time being, all of our health protection directives will remain in full effect.
The nationwide curfew will remain in effect from 10 pm until 5 am every day. Social gatherings must be limited to 20 people or fewer. Gyms, nightclubs, cinemas and swimming pools will remain closed, as will houses of worship. Contact sports are still not allowed to be played. Our schools will remain closed as well until the 12th of June 2020. Existing quarantine protocols will remain in place, including for Fijians returning overseas. These repatriating Fijians will immediately enter 14 days of quarantine in government funded facilities. At the end of the 14 day period, if they test negative for the virus, they can complete their remaining 14 days of self-quarantine at home.
In the coming weeks, we will finalise our game plan for a gradual scale-back of some of these measures. But I want to be crystal clear with every person watching: No matter how confident we are that this virus has been defeated, our most critical restrictions aren’t going anywhere. The good habits that we’ve picked up over the past few months –– physical distancing, regular handwashing, staying home or wearing face masks when we’re sick, not sharing takis and bilos, and keeping a clean working environment –– must become new ways of Fijian life. We cannot risk falling back into life-risking bad habits. To keep Fiji healthy, and to prevent a dangerous second wave of the virus, these new healthy habits must stick.
And even as we explore ways we can safely scale back restrictions, we’re also stepping up our virus containment. We’ve already health screened over 800,000 Fijians through the largest healthcare mobilisation campaign in Fijian history, in the coming weeks we will massively step-up testing as well. We are also actively looking at new and innovative ways to prevent a resurgence of the disease.
Under the digitalFIJI initiative, a mobile app called “careFIJI” has been developed that will harness our phones’ Bluetooth technology to make any future contact tracing faster, easier, and more effective. And it will do so all while protecting the privacy of the user.
If enough Fijians use careFIJI, we’ll be able to avoid large-scale lockdowns entirely. More importantly, widespread adoption of careFIJI will help save lives, bring back jobs, and increase confidence among our tourism and trading partners.
This app comes from the very same technology that has been widely adopted by millions of Singaporeans and Australians in their own fights to contain the virus –– meaning that its success will help pave the way to safely re-opening our borders to visitors. When that day comes, tourists will be able to download careFIJI upon landing, giving them the confidence that Fiji has COVID-19 firmly under control.
We’re aiming to launch a pilot programme of the app as soon as we get approval from the Android PlayStore and Apple AppStore. We need you –– every Fijian listening to this address –– to download this app when it’s available, just as we need you to continue to adhere to every one of our life-saving directives –– because your government cannot win this war alone. Your government cannot make you wash your hands. Your government cannot force you to bring your own bilos to kava sessions. Your government cannot inspect inside your homes to ensure they are clean. We will continue to give advice and directives led by the best available science, but ultimately, it’s up to you to stop the spread. Each of you must choose to make Fiji COVID-free.
Much of the rest of the world is still in the grips of widespread viral outbreaks, meaning the coronavirus-fuelled collapse of the world economy will likely get worse before it begins to relent. Like most other nations Fiji is deeply connected with the rest of the world, and like most other economies, our businesses, industries and citizens have been affected. Early next week, the Minister for Economy will announce the second round of COVID-19 unemployment benefits to be paid out –– in partnership with FNPF –– to aid those Fijians whose employers have been severely impacted by this crisis. We are also closely monitoring and working with business in various sectors and financial institutions to provide targeted support.
The coronavirus is the challenge of our generation. If our campaign presses onwards to total victory, when the history books recount the difficulty of this period, they will tell of how Fijians led the way in beating this virus for good. And around the world, as the larger war against this virus rages on, I hope our friends and partners can take comfort from what’s been achieved in Fiji. The right path isn’t always the easy one. But our success has shown that if you respect the science and act decisively, this virus can be beaten. Contact tracing saves lives. Stopping mass gatherings saves lives. Staying home saves lives. Changing behaviour, from how we shop, to how we travel, to how often we wash our hands, all saves lives. Entering patients into quarantine and isolation may not always be easy, but it saves lives as well. And if we want the world to rid itself of this virus, I urge leaders, businesses, and ordinary people to stay the course, do what must be done to avoid needless death and suffering –– and instead, set Fiji, and the rest of the global community on the course to health and economic recovery.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you and God bless you all.
I want to start the briefing today with the latest on our response to the devastation of Cyclone Harold. After being thoroughly health screened, our disaster officials have arrived with food, shelter kits, and medical supplies to Vatulele, Kadavu, Beqa, Yanuca and Southern Lau, we’ve shipped water to areas that need it as well. Deployments to the Yasawa and Mamanuca groups will depart this evening. Our evacuees are gradually returning home, but those who need to stay will continue to be fed and looked after. The Director NDMO is here with me to take any questions relating to our Cyclone Harold response.
We remain in a state of natural disaster from Cyclone Harold. Today, we are declaring another state of natural disaster in response to the coronavirus threat, because it is clear we need to bring every resource in government to bear to take on the crises of contagion and climate change before us.
Our coronavirus containment remains focused on our three high-risk locales: The Nabua settlement in Suva, the quarantine facilities in Nadi, and the Soasoa settlement and other areas in the North.
Our first 16 patients living with coronavirus are all in stable condition. Yesterday, after testing ten samples we recorded no new positive cases of coronavirus. Today, however, one of our 25 tested samples returned positive –– that of a 21-year-old man in Vanua Levu. This gentleman is a relative and travelling companion of case nine; they travelled together from India to Singapore and on to Fiji.
Since his return to Fiji, this young man has not shown a single symptom of the virus. You will recall our original case definition for virus testing required that patients display symptoms. Upon returning to the country from overseas, this young man was in self-quarantine for two full weeks, up until the 5th of April. Free of any symptoms throughout the virus’s known two-week incubation period, by all appearances, he was in the clear.
But as experts have unveiled more about the insidious nature of this virus, and our understanding of the disease has evolved, the way we define and contain cases must evolve as well. From this week, we’ve widened our testing to all close contacts of all our confirmed cases, regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms. That’s how we identified, tested and confirmed this gentleman as our 17th case. He was immediately entered into isolation upon testing positive today where he is in stable condition. His close contacts have been entered into separate isolation facilities.
This all goes to show that the knowns of this virus pale in comparison to the unknowns. What we do know is this: physical distancing is the only strategy that stops this virus. The disease cannot move if its carrier doesn’t –– so while there is no medical cure, time and distance are two sure-fire ways to put a stop to its transmission.
But as we have seen, the time that is needed to ensure it cannot be spread can be far longer than the world first thought. And it’s why we are now extending the quarantine period to a full 28 days, both for anyone who is newly-quarantined and to those who currently are waiting out their initial 14-day period. So, for example, if you are on day seven of your quarantine, you will remain in quarantine for 21 more days. Anyone whose quarantine has ended will not go back into quarantine, but they will continue to be monitored by the Ministry of Health until they meet the full 28-day threshold.
Our contact tracing stemming from this latest case has revealed the need for additional lockdowns on Vanua Levu. The Vunicagi Settlement between Nabowalu and Labasa will be locked down for the next 28 days. The settlement lies along a short stretch of vital highway which vehicles will still be allowed to traverse under 24/7 police monitoring, as no alternate routes into Labasa exist. However, no passengers will be allowed to disembark or embark: No one in and no one out.
Our lockdown of the Soasoa settlement as well will be extended another 14 days, in line with our 28-day quarantine policy. Given the continued risk of transmission on Vanua Levu, our ban on inter-island travel by air and sea will remain in effect.
Meanwhile, there is good news to report in Suva. Around 180,000 Fijians in the Suva confined have been screened by our mobile teams and at our fever clinics –– well beyond our target of 150,000, and an impressive two-thirds of the total population of our largest urban hub. Today, that total will likely surpass 230,000, meaning that when combined with previous screenings in Lautoka, over 280,000 Fijians have been screened.
This represents the most ambitious public health screening campaign in Fijian history. That success is shared by our healthcare heroes, our disciplined forces and the thousands of Fijians who stepped up and got themselves screened. We’ve also successfully identified and quarantined all of the close contacts of our Suva COVID-19 cases –– these Fijians will remain in quarantine for 28 days.
We know the triumph of a single battle doesn’t assure our victory against this virus. We know we’re still in for long and difficult months ahead. But winning these small battles day after day after day is what will win us the war. We’ll need to see similar successes replicated many times over in the months to come as we expand large-scale screening to Nadi, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki, Labasa, Savusavu, Sigatoka and Korovou.
The progress of our screening and contact tracing has kept us on track to lift the lockdown of the Suva confined area by 5am tomorrow. The Nabua settlement however –– the site of two of our coronavirus cases –– is still a high-risk region. Given how long this virus has proven it can stay dormant, the Nabua settlement will remain locked down for an additional 14 days.
I want to be crystal clear with everyone watching: Even though the Suva lockdown is lifting, every other life-saving directive in place will remain in place. The nationwide curfew remains in effect. Nightclubs stay closed. Gyms stay closed. Cinemas stay closed. Pools stay closed. Public gatherings are not permitted. Physical distancing of two metres from all others should be maintained at all times. The end of the lockdown is not cause for celebration. It is not a reason to have large grog sessions or drinking parties. It is not a justification to stay out past 8pm. It is not an excuse to leave your homes for no good reason.
In the West, Fijians who have returned from overseas remain under closely supervised quarantine. One flight is arriving tomorrow from Auckland –– every passenger aboard will head straight to one of these facilities. As I said earlier, the period of quarantine is now 28 days. If you’ve already been released from quarantine after returning from overseas, prepare for a visit from health officials.
Schools were scheduled to open next week Monday. Instead, schools will not open until the 15th of June, an extension that recognises that this virus will be part of our lives for the foreseeable future, and we must plan accordingly. The date schools reopen is subject to change based on the situation on the ground at the time. The Minister for Education joins me today to talk about how her ministry will continue to ensure that learning materials are distributed for at-home schooling, technology will be impactfully utilised, teachers and parents will be engaged and how students can utilise this as an opportunity for upskilling and professional development.
So, even though the Suva lockdown will be lifted tomorrow morning at 5am, I want today’s main takeaway to be that every other health protection measure remains in effect and will be enforced. Every would-be law-breaker can bet that they will be arrested and they will be charged if they flout any of these measures.
The coronavirus is the most complex and devastating global crisis of our lifetimes. We should all respect how vital our health protection measures are to the wellbeing of every Fijian. We need every Fijian behind them. Because as we’ve seen from the beginning, we are stronger together. And only together can the war against this virus be won.
Thank you. God bless you all, and God bless Fiji.