Ambassador: Japan not trying to buy SVG
September 14, 2007

Ambassador: Japan not trying to buy SVG

Japan is not trying to “buy” St Vincent and the Grenadines and other Caribbean territories, says Japan’s Ambassador to this country, Koichiro Seki.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Owia Fisheries Centre last Friday, September 7, Ambassador Seki said that while his country is grateful for St Vincent and the Grenadines’ support at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Japan’s contribution to this country’s social development is grounded in respect.

The Trinidad-based Ambassador, however, did not discount that St Vincent and the Grenadines’ voting pattern at the IWC has positively affected the relationship between the two countries.

“The whaling issue is part of our relationship with this region, but we share values on many international issues, so it is mutual co-operation,” Seki said.

When he addressed the gathering, Seki said that he hoped the centre will uplift the communities around it, and commended the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for their management of the project.

During his address at the ground breaking of the EC$36 million state of the art facility, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves identified Japan’s concern about climate change and the environment, coupled with its dedication to peace and security, as two of these areas of mutual cooperation.

“Japan is one of the countries in the world absolutely dedicated to peace, and we ourselves as a small country have to share with them their obsession to maintain world peace and security,” said Dr Gonsalves.

Regarding climate change, Dr Gonsalves applauded the initiative of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has launched what Dr Gonsalves calls “a brilliant proposal”, addressing climate change, which is known as “Cool Earth 2050”

But anti-whaling campaign groups continue to claim that the Japanese Fisheries Agency has carried out a programme of “vote-buying”, saying that in exchange for supporting Japan’s position for the reintroduction of commercial whaling, Japan has invested US$320 million in overseas aid to many countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guinea, Morocco, Panama, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Owia Fisheries Centre, which should be completed by August next year, will include a jetty to accommodate 55 feet long vessels, ramps, sea defenses, break water facilities with lighting and a light beacon, fish handling and processing facilities, a fuel station, among other things.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) resident representative here, Yuko Mizuno, may have best expressed the sentiments of the speakers that spoke at the ceremonial soil turning, and the many curious villagers that looked on from every vantage point, when he said: “This project marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the village of Owia.”

The many fishermen, who for years have depended on the Atlantic Sea for their daily bread, without such infrastructural and technical support, may have all said a collective “amen” when he said so.