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”.
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.
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.