The Japanese Government has been lauded for its invaluable contribution to the social and economic development of Jamaica and other regions, by State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown.
State Minister Brown said this assistance is mainly provided through the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), the primary governmental agency responsible for the technical co-operation component of Japan’s bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme.
“JICA has truly made its mark in its various endeavours, including its projects and training courses throughout the world. JICA has adhered to its vision of providing the tools for short and long term development to its international partners,” he noted.
The State Minister was speaking at the opening of the 5th Regional Meeting of the Federation of Central American and Caribbean Alumni Associations of Japan, at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, on Thursday, February 28.
He noted that under the programme, a significant number of loans, grants, projects, seminars, courses and scholarships have provided valuable specialised training to citizens of the region in various fields.
“Our people have returned to their respective places of work with an increased ability and capacity to carry out their duties. This kind of assistance, that is so beneficial for development, is invaluable,” the State Minister said.
He noted that the bilateral relations have also led to the recent launch of a pilot project by a Japanese company to extract rare earth elements from bauxite waste, adding that initiatives such as these demonstrate the level of co-operation that is a “gateway into greater involvement and investment in the respective countries.”
“We thank JICA for its impactful partnership and hope for constant expansion of the vision and operations of this noteworthy organisation,” he said.
Resident Representative at JICA, Masami Shukunobe, said the agency is now strengthening its assistance for each country’s alumni activities in recognition of the important roles they play in building bridges between Japan and the respective countries.
“Next year, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their establishing diplomatic relations with Japan. This means that Japan will pay special attention to these regions and the occasion will be marked by holding some memorable events,” he said.
Established in 1954, JICA aims to contribute to the promotion of international co-operation as well as the sound development of the Japanese and global economy by supporting the socio-economic development, recovery or economic stability of developing regions.
Under JICA’s Overseas Technical Training Programme foreign nationals are invited to Japan for training.These former participants of JICA training courses in Japan have integrated and have formed JICA Alumni Associations worldwide, which act as a bridge in the promotion of friendship between the participating countries and Japan.
JICA officially commenced operations in Jamaica in July, 1989 with the dispatch of Japan Overseas Co-operation Volunteers (JOCV) in the areas of education, health and agriculture, with the objective of improving human resource development in the country.
The JICA Alumni Association in Jamaica was incorporated on March 2, 1998. It is comprised of Jamaican officials, technocrats and administrators who received technical training in Japan under the bilateral technical co-operation programme between the governments of Jamaica and Japan.
The conference, which ends on Friday, March 1, sees various JICA alumni associations across the Central American and Caribbean region getting together to discuss how they can make a greater impact on the development of their respective countries through the skills they have acquired in Japan.