- Jamaica is benefiting from significant support from Japan this year to strengthen the country’s efforts in disaster risk management and renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- The focus on these areas of support came out of talks between Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, and Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Shinzō Abe, when they met in Trinidad and Tobago last year, for the first Japan-CARICOM Summit.
- Jamaica is also to receive assistance to improve its emergency communications system, with early warning and alarm systems to be established, and the island will benefit from Japanese expertise in the area of disaster management.
Jamaica is benefiting from significant support from Japan this year to strengthen the country’s efforts in disaster risk management and renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The focus on these areas of support came out of talks between Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, and Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Shinzō Abe, when they met in Trinidad and Tobago last year, for the first Japan-CARICOM Summit.
“Coming out of those talks are the areas of focus that are to guide the programme for continued development assistance of the Government of Japan to Jamaica for the year 2015,” says Counsellor for the Japanese Embassy in Jamaica, Hiromoto Oyama.
The support in disaster management is part of over $1.7 billion (US$15 million) being provided through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to help them cope with the impact of climate change.
These include measures against environmental degradation, and initiatives in natural disaster risk reduction, sustainable fisheries, waste management, and sustainable development, as it relates to the peculiarities and vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
In February, Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips and former Ambassador of Japan, Yasuo Takase, signed a grant assistance agreement for the provision of $96 million for the purchase of heavy equipment, to better enable the country to respond to and recover from natural and man-made disasters.
The items include building construction, mining and civil works equipment; and environmental and meteorological measuring devices.
Jamaica is also to receive assistance to improve its emergency communications system, with early warning and alarm systems to be established, and the island will benefit from Japanese expertise in the area of disaster management.
Meanwhile, Jamaica is to benefit from US$1billion, being provided by JICA under a co-financing programme with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), for the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in the Caribbean and Central America. The aim is to tackle high energy costs and reduce the dependency on fossil fuel-generated energy.
In addition to the support in disaster management and energy, the Government of Japan, through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project is providing support in the areas are education, agriculture, community development, emergency response, and health.
From 1995 to present, the Government of Japan has provided funding in the amount of $740 million for 88 projects across Jamaica at the grassroots level.
Since 2014 several millions have been granted for expansion and upgrading of schools.
These include: $12 million to rehabilitate Campbell’s Castle All Age in Manchester; $11 million for expansion of the Care Bear Early Childhood Development Centre in Whitfield Town, South West St. Andrew; $11 million for construction of two additional classrooms at Buff Bay High School in Portland; $11.5 million for construction of three classrooms at the Boundbrook Primary School also in Portland; and another $11.5 million for the construction of two classrooms and perimeter fencing at Orange Bay Primary in Portland.
Contributions have also been made in health with donation of lifesaving medical equipment and supplies, valued at $9 million to the Bustamante Hospital for Children in late 2014.
The items include eight patient monitors; an esophagoscope; a mobile dental unit; an oscillator; six mobile blood pressure machines; one suction pump; a ventilator; and a binocular indirect ophthalmoscope.
The Japanese government, last year, also donated ambulances and fire trucks to the Jamaica Fire Brigade, and training boats to the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI).
In 2013, Jamaica benefited from $43.7 million (US$380,000) through the grassroots project, in addition to US$1.8 million provided by the Japanese Government in technical cooperation, which includes the volunteer and training programmes.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, says Japan is an important development partner to both Jamaica and CARICOM.
The country, he says, has been playing a critical role in supporting the region’s development process in various sectors and has been a reliable ally in advocating on international issues of strategic interest to CARICOM, including climate change and its impact on SIDS.
He informs that at the Fourth CARICOM-Japan Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo in November 2014, the parties discussed new approaches to expand the bonds of friendship through sport programmes, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, such as the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, and the Invitation Programme for Young Officials of the Caribbean Community.
Japan also affirmed its intention to promote assistance for Japanese language education at the University of the West Indies (UWI) through Information Communication Technology (ICT).
Both sides also agreed to explore cooperation and partnerships in investment and commercial activities. As a lead investor, Japan indicated its willingness to further invest in areas such as ICT, infrastructure and tourism in CARICOM countries.
The meeting also underscored the importance of the Japan-CARICOM Friendship Fund, which has been Japan’s private and public sector initiative since 2000 for assistance to programmes in the region.
Beyond the development support, Mr. Omaya says that the countries, which marked 51 years of diplomatic relations in March, have a strong and enduring friendship that transcends the differences between the two cultures.
He attributes this successful relationship to the friendly and kind nature of the people of both countries. “We both have kind hearts… (and) we have the same goals,” he notes.
He adds that Japanese people have embraced the Jamaican culture wholeheartedly.
“Japanese people like Jamaican culture so much that from time to time they come to Jamaica to take part in dancehall and reggae contests, and have even won. So that tells you how much we love your culture,” he enthuses.
As part of the cultural promotion and cooperation between the two nations, JICA is to provide funding for the Revitalization of the Institute of Jamaica project through its Cultural Grant Assistance programme.
Mr. Oyama notes that Jamaicans are also showing a marked interest in the Japanese culture.
“Jamaican people are beginning to like Japanese pop culture such as Japanese animation. I am very happy to see that Jamaican people are beginning to enjoy our culture as well,” he says.
Ambassador Takase, who completed his tour of duty in Jamaica at the end of March, expresses the hope that” everyone will continue to work together to ensure the human security of the Jamaican people”.
The Japanese Ambassador says “I am leaving Jamaica with wonderful memories…I won’t say goodbye. But instead…tek care till we buck up nex time.”