Thu | Apr 9, 2020

Locals gain big from Jamaica-Japan ties

Published:Monday | November 5, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke (second left) greets Shorna Kay Richards (right), director, Bilateral Relations Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, on his arrival at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on Saturday for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Alumni Association in Jamaica. Others are (from left) Japanese ambassador to Jamaica, Hiromasa Yamazaki, and Kenji Tobita, resident representative, JICA Jamaica.

More than 600 Jamaican officers and engineers, mainly from public-sector entities, have benefited from technical training programmes in Japan.

The sectors for training are wide and varied to support the socio-economic development of Jamaica.

These sectors vary from year to year based on the priority areas of cooperation between Japan and Jamaica, as well as in accordance with the Government's Vision 2030 Development Plan.

The training programmes, which started in Jamaica in 1977, are provided through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke said Jamaica was grateful for the various investments Japan has made in the country's economy and people.

"When you invest in people, you invest in our future, and the range of areas in which you work - fire prevention, disaster risk reduction, energy and energy security, cultural institutions - are extremely impactful. By investing in people, particularly young people, you are investing in our future, and we thank you for that," he said.

He was speaking at the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Japan International Cooperation Agency Alumni Association in Jamaica, held at The Knutsford Court Hotel on Saturday.

Clarke noted that Jamaica and Japan are natural partners.

"The fact that you have kept this going for 20 years is a testimony to the value that you have received from this experience. This year represents the 54th year of the relations between Jamaica and Japan, and it represents the 29th year of JICA's operations here in Jamaica," he said.

The finance minister said that approximately 420 Japanese volunteers have worked in Jamaica since 1989 in various areas through the JICA overseas volunteer programme.

"In the last two years alone, we have had 34 Jamaicans participate in programmes in Japan with a total cost of about US$240,000. As Jamaica focuses on strengthening and improving public-service delivery and on environmental protection and disaster risk reduction and mitigation, these programmes provide invaluable opportunities for Jamaicans, and the investment continues to yield fruit year after year," he said.




For his part, Japanese ambassador to Jamaica, Hiromasa Yamazaki, said his government was proud that the training has been a mutually beneficial one for participants.

"I would like to use this opportunity to encourage all your endeavours, with stronger hope that your experience in Japan will always contribute to the ongoing economic, social and sustainable development of Jamaica," he said.

Resident representative, JICA Jamaica, Kenji Tobita, said currently, training is being conducted in the areas of disaster risk reduction, environmental protection, natural resources and energy, climate change, governance, expansion of job opportunities and human resources development.

He said most of the participants who have returned believe that their organisation's business and operations have been improved by making use of the training results.

"Participants have also benefited from training in the areas of health, education, sanitation, fire prevention and agriculture," he said.

Former participants of JICA's training programme in Japan, with the assistance of the Embassy of Japan in Jamaica, established the JICA Alumni Association in Jamaica on March 3, 1998.