Solid diplomatic relationships and cooperation are critical to the development and success of all nation states, says Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshi Yamaguchi.
Speaking with JIS News during an interview at the Embassy of Japan, Oxford Road, New Kingston, on Friday (January 29), Ambassador Yamaguchi said that not even super powers, such as the United States and China, can exist without maintaining good relations and collaboration with other countries.
The sharing of information, cultures, human resources and economic and social visions is extremely important for growth, he says.
He stated that it is most important for a country as Jamaica, an island that is strategically located, to get to know as many countries as possible.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshi Yamaguchi.
“I think that cooperation is necessary, especially for the 21st century, even the United States and China are dependent. Look at all the other major markets, India and Brazil, they are also interdependent,” he explains.
This, he tells JIS News, has been the foundation on which Japanese/Jamaican relations has been built and sustained over the years.
Bilateral relations between Jamaica and Japan have grown tremendously since they started diplomatic relations in 1964. The Embassy of Jamaica was established in Japan in 1992, while the Embassy of Japan, with its first Resident Ambassador, was established in Jamaica in 1995. Since that time, there has been advanced cooperation through political, cultural and economic relations, and Jamaica has benefited tremendously from this partnership.
Ambassador Yamaguchi says that Japan, and its people, have also gained from its association with Jamaica.
“You (Jamaicans) have taught us how to speak English, how to understand English. Representatives from the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) programme have really contributed a lot to the Japanese society, especially touching awareness among the Japanese young people,” he admits.
He says Japanese who have come in contact with Jamaicans on the JET programme have benefited tremendously from the interaction, particularly through cultural exchange, in terms of language, music and dance.
The programme invites young college and university graduates, from overseas, to participate in international exchange and foreign language education throughout Japan. Jamaica, as the first Caribbean country, began to participate in the programme in 2001 and approximately 15 to 20 Jamaican youths are dispatched to Japan each year.
Having only arrived in Jamaica in October, 2009, the Ambassador is looking forward to the possibility of spending another two and half years in the country. He says that one of his main objectives, while in Jamaica, is to assist with the development and training of our human resources.
Ambassador Yamaguchi says that Jamaica and Japan have a lot in common, in terms of the limited natural resources that are available, and must focus on cultivating and nourishing its human capital.
One way in which the Japanese Government continues to assist in the training of the Jamaican work force, is through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The programme acts as a bridge between Japan and developing countries, like Jamaica, by promoting the sharing of skills and knowledge to enable all people to pursue socioeconomic development in a self-reliant manner.
JICA officially commenced operations in Jamaica in July, 1989, with the dispatch of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) in areas of education, health and agriculture, with the aim of improving human resource development.
The JOCV members, who possess specialised skills and knowledge, have been transferring these skills to Jamaicans, playing a leading role in the socio-economic development of Jamaica.
The programme was re-established in Jamaica in October 2008, following the merging of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and JICA, making it the world’s largest bilateral development aid agency.
According to Resident JICA Representative, Toshimasa Takashima, JICA currently offers technical cooperation, Japan’s Official Development Assistance loans and grant aid.
Under the technical cooperation scheme, JICA offers technical training for Jamaicans in various fields, including education, health and medical care, environment conservation and agriculture.
This sees a number of Jamaicans being sent to Japan each year to partake in various training programmes in a number of fields.
JICA/JOCV has also successfully implemented a major water supply project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Housing and the National Water Commission (NWC), as well as the Technical Vocational Education and Training Project with the Ministry of Education.
It has also been working with the Southern Regional Health Authority and the Ministry of Health to strengthen health care programmes at various medical facilities.
Ambassador Yamaguchi says the main aim for the Japanese Government is to continue to share in the development of both nations, through learning and assisting each other.
“We can continue to learn from Jamaica. There are so many talents that Jamaica is producing, it’s a wonder of the world. We have to try to really study about what is happening in this country,” the Ambassador states.