29th June, 2012: On Thursday 7 June 2012, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga called on Mr Hideo YOSHIDA, Mayor of Miura city in Kanagawa Prefecture purposefully to: i) promote Fiji to the Kanagawa Prefecture and establish a friendly bilateral relationship with Miura City underpinned by mutual respect;ii) explore public diplomacy as well as trade and investment win-win opportunities with Miura City; andiii) obtain the support and advices of Mr. Yoshida pertaining to the interest and socio-economic potentials offered and needed by Miura City.
In his brief, Ambassador highlighted the Embassy`s initiative of soft diplomacy in exploring and establishing friendly relations with respective Prefectures, a process which it commenced with zeal in 2010, objectively to promote Fiji as a promising socio-economic destiny to Japan and the international community, as well as to establish deepening people to people relations. The preceding discussions held with Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture and respective Honorary Consuls, Mr Hideo Kiji were also noted.
The Ambassador praised the thriving tuna business in Miura City and expressed how Fiji would like to seize the opportunity to study and benefit from its know-how and technology of tuna-business operations.
The Mayor was informed of the “Fiji Trade and Investment Opportunities” seminar that the Embassy normally conducts concurrently with every prefectural visit or separately in a follow-up visit. The seminar contents encompasses information on Fiji’s geographic, economic and demographic profiles, and in the context of Miura City will focus on fisheries, trade and investment opportunities, tourism, labour mobility and public diplomacy. For fisheries, Ambassador informed that a tuna-business company in Chiba Prefecture (Global Sea-Foods) has been scheduled to visit Fiji in late June with particular interest in importing fresh tunas from Fiji.
Furthermore, the Ambassador expressed and sought the support of the Mayor for the possibility of establishing a Sister-City Relations between one of Fiji’s province or town and Miura City. In this regard, the Ambassador explained the Assistant Language Teachers Scheme under the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme between Fiji and Japan at Prefectural level, emphasising that the same could be introduced to Miura City at cost to JET than to MC. Thus, FET would be most willing to assist should Miura be interested. As of current, Fijian Teachers are being employed in Takanezawa and Tochigi prefectures.
In addition, the Japanese owned Freebird Institute in Fiji was exemplified as a successful related English Language programme which has educated more than 1000 Japanese students. Even, more go to Fiji as private students to study and graduate from high school given that Fiji’s education cost is relatively low and its curriculum can allow students to enrol in Universities abroad such as Australia, NZ, USA, UK, and Canada.
In response, Mr. Yoshida thanked the Ambassador and expressed his gratitude for the visit and good initiative to promote trade and investment cooperation and people-to-people relations between Miura and Fiji. On that note, he emphasised on the need to first embark on cultural/people exchange which is considered a cornerstone to building-up Fiji/Miura friendly relations prior to formalising a Sister-Cities closer ties.
He informed that Miura City has a 20 year sister-city relation with Australia, whereby 20 students from Australia would spend two weeks training in MC, hence, the possibility of a sister-city relation with Fiji is possible.
Mr. Yoshida embraced the notion of people-to-people relations in terms of the Assistant Language Teachers Scheme, stating keenness to bring in English teachers from Fiji to Miura given that in this era Japanese students have regarded English as very important a language to learn. He, thus, asked FET’s assistance to liaise with MOFA, Japan in this regard.
Mayor Yoshida agreed that there are obvious similarities between Miura and Fiji in terms of economic activities and therefore should be developed into practical trade and investment opportunities. He, thus, stated to help identify a company which may be interested in tuna imports as he would like to see that tuna business with Fiji materialises, and thus enquired as to the possibility of procuring fish direct from a fishing company at sea to Miura. He also expressed interest for an exploratory visit to Fiji one day.
Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Mr Yoshida for his time and the invaluable exchanges that transpired. He advised that responses to all their enquiries would be disseminated during the follow-up seminar, from which Miura City could subsequently identify interested areas of investment, investors and parties.
In closure Ambassador stated that Fiji looks forward to deepening exchange ties with Miura City and it will provide all assistance required from its end to ensure that a sister-city relations and tuna business materialises between Fiji and Miura.
The President of Inter Action Corporation, Mr Hideo Kiji who is also Fiji’s Honorary Consul for Kanagawa and Counsellor Korovou were also in attendance.
(Photo caption 1: Ambassador with Mr Hideo Yoshida, Mayor of Miura City in Kanagawa Prefecture;caption 2: Ambassador Mataitoga, Mr Yoshida and Fiji`s Honorary Consul in Kanagawa Prefecture, Mr Kiji; caption 3: Ambassador Mataitoga, HC Mr Kiji and Miura city officials at Misaki port)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji