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1. FIJI FOREIGN MINISTER HOLDS TALKS WITH JAPANESE COUNTERPART – Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola held historic talks this week with his Japan counterpart, Minister Fumio Kishida.
2. FIJIAN GOVERNMENT GRANTS DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION TO PIDF – Work on the Secretariat for the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) gathers pace as the Fijian Government today granted diplomatic recognition to the Pacific’s newest regional organization.
3. MINISTER KUBUABOLA MEETS VICE PRESIDENT OF JAPAN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGENCY [JICA] – The Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola had a meeting with Mr Kiyama SHIGERU, Vice President of JICA and Mr Irigaki HIDETOSHI, Director General, South East Asia & Pacific Department in Tokyo, Japan this week.
4. REDD+ GOES ONLINE TO BOOST AWARENESS STRATEGY – Government is committed to prioritising and creating awareness on education to resource owners of what the REDD+ initiative seeks to address.
5. MINISTER KUBUABOLA MEET JAPAN’S E-SOLUTIONS INC. – The Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, held a meeting with senior officials from E-Solutions Inc. this week to look at ways of boosting renewable energy in the region.
6. DON’T FORGET POLYNESIA, MICRONESIA: FIJIAN PRESIDENT – Fijian President His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has urged the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) not to forget its brothers and sisters from Micronesia and Polynesia saying it was important to voice their grievances at international forums.
1 FIJI FOREIGN MINISTER HOLDS TALKS WITH JAPANESE COUNTERPART
Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola held historic talks this week with his Japan counterpart, Minister Fumio Kishida.
This is the first bilateral meeting between both Ministers since Japan’s Abe-led government came into power in 2012. The meeting between the two senior government officials is regarded as a step forward in the deepening of relations between Fiji and Japan, particularly in view of the difficulties in relations experienced by Fiji, under the previous government.
Minister Kishida expressed on behalf of the Japanese Government, his appreciation towards Fiji’s participation at the PALM 6 Interim Ministerial Review Meeting, despite the fact that Fiji did not participate in the PALM 6 Leaders Meeting. He emphasized that Fiji’s position as the hub of the South Pacific region plays a vital role in Japan’s partnership and development objectives in the region. He acknowledged Fiji’s electoral developments as a step forward towards democratic elections in 2014 and reiterated Japan’s willingness to assist in the preparatory process for election in 2014.
Minister Kubuabola in response thanked the government of Japan for the assistance provided to Fiji in the past and congratulated Japan’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. He also acknowledged the invitation extended to Fiji to attend the Interim Ministerial Meeting held this weekend.
There were several bilateral issues presented by Minister Kubuabola for Japan’s consideration. The first was the proposed visit to Japan by Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama as the Minister responsible for the Sugar Industry. The Minister said that as part of Fiji’s sugar reforms, the visit in 2014 would allow a delegation to observe the Okinawa Sugar Industry, as part of efforts to capture all the best practices and experience of countries with sugar industries similar to Fiji. The second was Fiji requesting the early conclusion of an investment agreement, which is critical to increasing trade and investment between the two countries. On these two issues, Minister Kishida agreed that relevant officials from both countries should coordinate closely with each other to ensure these two issues are concluded.
The Nadi River Realignment Project was again raised with Minister Kishida, to underscore its critical importance to Fiji and to further demonstrate how recent flooding in Fiji has caused havoc in the social and economic activities in that important region. Assistance towards the PIDF Secretariat was also requested and Minister Kishida agreed that his official will consider this and an appropriate response will be provided.
On bilateral projects with Fiji, Japan will send a mission to Fiji in February/March 2014 to finalize the feasibility study for the Nadi River Realignment Project before the stage will start.
Minister Kubuabola also extended an invitation to Minister Kishida to visit Fiji soon. In doing so, he noted that the last Foreign Minister of Japan that visited Fiji was Mr Shintaro ABE who accompanied Prime Minister NAKASONE to Fiji on an official visit in May 1985. He further observed that high level ministerial visits between friendly countries, should be at regular interval, as they provide a critical mechanism for maintaining goodwill and fraternal relationships between states. On this, Minister Kishida said that he would like to visit Fiji and he will look into this seriously.
The meeting concluded with mutual expression of goodwill to each other. Fiji’s resident Ambassador in Japan H.E Isikeli Mataitoga and the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Mr Pio Tikoduadua accompanied the meeting with the Foreign Minister.
2 FIJIAN GOVERNMENT GRANTS DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION TO PIDF
Work on the Secretariat for the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) gathers pace as the Fijian Government today granted diplomatic recognition to the Pacific’s newest regional organization.
In two gazette notices (Gazette Notice 1289 and Legal Notice No 64) published today in the Government of Fiji Gazette, the Fijian Government formally granted diplomatic status to the Pacific Island Development Forum as an international organization under the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1971.
The publication formalizes the international status of the PIDF as an international organization under Fijian laws and ensures the organization receives the same diplomatic privileges as other similar organizations operating in Fiji such as the United Nations, the SPC, and the Pacific Island Forum etc.
During the historical inaugural meeting of the PIDF which was held at the Sheraton Fiji Resort in Denarau from 5 August this year the meeting approved the establishment of a Secretariat. The meeting also accepted an offer by Prime Minister Bainimarama for Fiji to host the Secretariat and to provide the initial funding for its establishment.
In his statement at the meeting in Nadi the Prime Minister said:
“I am equally delighted to say that Fiji offered to host the Secretariat and that offer has been accepted. On behalf of every Fijian, I want to thank our fellow Pacific Islanders for the confidence you have shown in us. We are deeply honored by the trust that you’ve placed on us, and pledge to make every effort to ensure that this important and new regional initiative is a success. Work will commence immediately in setting up the Secretariat, to maintain the momentum of this discussion. A working group comprising all the stakeholders, government, civil society groups and businesses will map out the way forward. Initially, we envisage that the new Secretariat will be housed in Suva in the former headquarters of the Fiji Film and Video Unit in Domain Road. It will be initially funded by Fiji and staffed by representatives of governments, civil society groups and business from the PIDF Region. Further details will be announced in due course but I can assure you that the PIDF Secretariat will be very different from the Forum Secretariat.”
“We have no interest in establishing a competing bureaucracy. Indeed, my fellow Leaders and I have agreed that our guiding philosophy will be the antithesis of many bureaucracies – less is more and more for less. The Pacific does not need expensive facilities, we need results. The Pacific does not need an army of overpaid officials; we need committed, publicly minded individuals, utilizing scarce resources to maximum effect.
“The Pacific does not need any more top-down solutions, we need to harness the common sense of our People at the grassroots, listen to them as we identify their needs and work up. So, my fellow Leaders have agreed that we will start modestly, expand only when required and live within our means.”
Meanwhile work on the PIDF Secretariat building is well underway at 56 Domain Road which was the former office of the Film and Television Unit at the Ministry of Information. The office is currently undergoing refurbishment to bring it to a state befitting the headquarters of an international organization. The refurbishment is expected to be completed at the end of the year.
This Project is coordinated by Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation.
(Attached are pictures of the current office being renovated and blue prints of the office design)
3 MINISTER KUBUABOLA MEETS VICE PRESIDENT OF JAPAN INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AGENCY [JICA]
The Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Ratu Inoke Kubuabola had a meeting with Mr Kiyama SHIGERU, Vice President of JICA and Mr Irigaki HIDETOSHI, Director General, South East Asia & Pacific Department in Tokyo, Japan this week.
The meeting was arranged to provide an opportunity between high level representatives from the Fijian Government and JICA, to update each other on Japanese Development Assistance Projects to Fiji.
The meeting started with a brief statement from Vice President Shigeru outlining the projects JICA undertakes in the Pacific and in the case of Fiji, his focus was on the Nadi River Realignment Project. In his statement, Mr Shigeru observed that Fiji is an important country for Japan in the Pacific. He noted that JICA projects are undertaken in support of Japanese Government foreign policy priorities and guidelines.
Minister Kubuabola in his statement to the meeting briefly outlined the democratization process in Fiji with the new constitution now in place and the election preparations that are currently underway. He reassured JICA that elections will take place in no later 30 September 2104.
Minister Kubuabola specifically raised the Nadi River Realignment Project underscoring the vital concern of the Fijian Government in finalization of the preparatory stage and to move to actual implementation of the project. Minister informed Mr Shigeru of the massive costs of flood damage to public utilities and to tourism and sugar industry of the two floods in early 2012 for example exceeded $300 million dollars. This does not include the social costs and the personal tragedy suffered by the many thousands who were victims of the disaster.
Mr Shigeru in response to this advised that JICA will be sending a Mission in February/March 2014 to finalize the feasibility proposal and requests the support of the Fijian Government. The Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Mr Pio Tikoduadua attended the meeting and reassured JICA officials that the Fijian government is prepared to facilitate this mission.
Meanwhile Fiji’s resident Ambassador to Japan Isikeli Mataitoga briefly referred to an expression of interest from the KITANO Group of Companies and other companies in Japan in undertaking development projects under JICA sponsorship. He requested JICA consider projects from Japanese companies for Fiji.
4 REDD+ GOES ONLINE TO BOOST AWARENESS STRATEGY
Government is committed to prioritising and creating awareness on education to resource owners of what the REDD+ initiative seeks to address.
Speaking at the launch of the REDD+ website, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs Deputy Secretary Loata Vakacegu stated that government was committed to safeguarding the interests of iTaukei land owners through the REDD+ programme.
“The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs prioritizes the awareness and education of resource owners on what REDD+ is all about and works with the Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry which is the line ministry for REDD+ in the national steering committee,” she said.
She also added that through the launching of this website, the dissemination of information on REDD+ and its objectives would be accessible to the public.
“The whole idea behind the launch of this website is to disseminate information on REDD+ as wide as possible and through this we give the opportunity to the public to easily access information on REDD+ related programmes like climate change and sustainable forest management practices and also best practices that have been conducted regionally and globally.
She added that the launching of the website also related to sectors that included forestry and climate change.
“The launching of the REDD+ website relates to all sectors including forestry and climate change which is an issue that is being handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By press of a button we can access information through this website,” she said.
Ms Vakacegu advised members of the public to familiarize themselves with the contents of the website to safeguard against the effects of deforestation and climate change. She added that the website was through government funding and that it was also urged for students to access the information on the website to educate them on REDD+ and what was all about.
“This website will be one of the crucial effective means of widely disseminating information to rural and remote communities around the country as far as REDD+ is concerned and I also encourage students to access the website to know of REDD+ activities.
REDD+ is a sustainable forest management initiative and it addresses the challenges that accompany deforestation and unsustainable forest degradation and activities that have depleted our forest stock.
The website was launched because the access to information was crucial to areas with internet access. It is an initiative that strives to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation through conservation, sustainable management of forests and carbon stocks.
The newly launched website IP address is http://fiji-reddplus.org/
5 MINISTER KUBUABOLA MEET JAPAN’S E-SOLUTIONS INC.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, held a meeting with senior officials from E-Solutions Inc.this week to look at ways of boosting renewable energy in the region.
The meeting was arranged to allow company officials to discuss renewable energy projects for small island states, using smart solar grids for cities and isolated communities. These types of projects were part of the available funding through ‘Cool Biz’ and also provide a platform for implementing ‘Joint Credit Mechanism’ [JCM], which Japan may use to offset emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The project proposed under the E-Solutions Inc is part of the Japanese Ministry of Environment policy on ‘Comprehensive support for Island Countries’. Under this policy framework, Japanese cutting-edge technology would be provided to support adaptation to climate changes and mitigation measures and waste management.
The Minister noted with keen interest E-Solutions’ proposed JCM Scheme, commenting that it would auger well for the renewable energy development objectives and efforts of the Fijian Government. Ideally, the island of Vanualevu would be the best targeted beneficiary for this project in view of the Government’s development plans for the Northern Division in the medium to long-term.
It was a successful meeting as positive exchanges were shared and registered by both parties to impel the Scheme in earnest with their respective relevant authorities and agencies.
Minister Kubuabola extended an invitation to the company to send a delegation to visit to Fiji to discuss the project proposals in more detail. Mr Sasaki agreed to send a delegation soon.
6 DON’T FORGET POLYNESIA, MICRONESIA: FIJIAN PRESIDENT
Fijian President His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has urged the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) not to forget its brothers and sisters from Micronesia and Polynesia saying it was important to voice their grievances at international forums.
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau made the call while visiting the secretariat of the MSG in Port Vila, Vanuatu today where he met the Director General of the MSG Peter Forau.
“We must never forget two other great people in the Pacific – our brothers and sisters in Polynesia and Micronesia in our efforts in developing and transforming the lives of our people,” he said.
“We are not only related to them because we fall under the Oceania family but more so because we are related and share similar challenges and threats.”
His visit to Vila is on the back of a two – day visit to Solomon Islands where he also thanked the people and Government of the Solomon’s for their support and solidarity towards Fiji in recent years.
“I’m here to thank the country for its support towards Fiji in recent years and in our aspirations to have elections next year. We will have elections,” he said.
President Nailatikau returns to Fiji later today.
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