Japan minister’s high-profile visit

Japan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei Shunsuke top center (in blue shirt) was welcomed at a dinner at the Marshall Islands Resort Tuesday night by Marshall Islands President David Kabua, fourth from right, and Foreign Minister Kitlang Kabua, third from left. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

EVE BURNS

The visit by Japan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Takei Shunsuke heralded a series of signing ceremonies Tuesday at President David Kabua’s office for Japan aid projects. The ceremony was short, swift and on Japanese time.

The signing involved two Grant Aid Projects implemented by JICA: Project for Water Improvement for Majuro, which is the construction of a new water reservoir at the airport, and the Project for Installation of Solar Electricity Generation System in Ebeye, which involves solar-to-grid with KAJUR, Ebeye’s power company. In addition, a grant was signed under the Economic and Social Development Program for two transport vessels for Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority.

Ambassador Tanaka Kazunari, JICA Representative Ukai Hikoyuki and Minister Kitlang Kabua did the signing.

Minister Kitlang recognized President Kabua and the national government. She expressed her appreciation to Japan, and Ambassador Tanaka, for ongoing support for essential services to address sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation in the Marshall Islands.

“The Project for Water Improvement for Majuro aims to increase our rainwater storage capacity at the reservoirs near the airport,” said Minister Kitlang. “This will help with future droughts and the increasing demand in our urban center. This project is now worth $3.2 million.”

The solar power system for Ebeye aims to help KAJUR reduce fossil fuel consumption by increasing use of renewable energy, she said of the $500,000 JICA project.

“Lastly, the two transport vessels will be utilized to transport supplies to fishing communities and for the collection of fish from our neighboring islands by MIMRA,” she added. “These vessels will support these neighboring island communities by providing a way for them to sell their fish and other produce within RMI. The two boats are worth approximately $2.3 million.”

“These three projects are intended to materialize Japan’s commitment in supporting five priority areas of cooperation expressed at the 9th Pacific Island Leaders Meeting,” said Ambassador Tanaka. “The provision of the vessels, for example, is to support the Marshall Islands effort to ‘Strengthen the Foundation for Sustainable and Resilient Economic Development’, by developing a sustainable coastal fishing industry throughout the neighboring islands,” said Tanaka.

The two grant aid projects implemented by JICA are expected to support Marshall Islands efforts in climate change and disaster resilience by promoting renewable energy and securing water supply for droughts and future demand through construction of a new water reservoir, Tanaka said.

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