Japan Renews Pledge to Liberia

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The head of the visiting Japanese delegation, Ambassador Norio Maruyama, Director General for African Affairs, has assured that his government will fulfill all of its promises to Liberia.
Amb. Maruyama renewed his government’s commitment when he met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Monday, September 8, at her Foreign Ministry offices.
Amb. Maruyama and his delegation’s trip to Liberia was in fulfillment of the pledge made by both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Sirleaf during her recent visit to Japan to attend the World Assembly for Women (WAW!) 2015, that they would hold a political dialogue to further strengthen the bilateral ties and economic cooperation between Liberia and Japan. They also pledged to follow up on tangible issues laid down in the Japan-Liberia Joint Statement.
During Ambassador Maruyama’s discussion with President Sirleaf, he reassured the Liberian people that Japan is still committed to paving the Somalia Drive road, beginning from the Freeport of Monrovia to Red Light in Paynesville.
President Sirleaf told him that Japan’s continued assistance to Liberia, especially following the country’s emergence from months of a serious health crisis, is indeed vital to strengthening and consolidating relations between both nations.
She also extolled the Government of Japan for the continuous grant assistance, which is monetized to fund important socio-economic projects with significant impacts on the lives of Liberians.
Before the Japanese Diplomat met with President Sirleaf, he along with his delegation, including Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura, met with Liberian government officials in the first ever Liberia-Japan Political Dialogue, since establishing diplomatic ties at ambassadorial level in 1962.
Among cardinal issues discussed during the one-day Dialogue were the political and security situation in Liberia, specifically UNMIL draw-down; post-Ebola stabilization & economic recovery plan, including health, infrastructure, agriculture and education; and cooperation on international affairs.
Ambassador Norio Maruyama’s delegation included Dr. Higuchi Yoshihiki, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan, Ghana, Ms. Miwako Shino, an official from the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Mr. Toshihisa Hasegawa, Senior Representative, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Michiko Yokoyama, a representative from JICA Office-Liberia.
The Dialogue was held in the C. Cecil Dennis Hall of the Foreign Ministry on Monday.
The Liberian delegation was led by Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan and included Liberia’s Ambassador to Japan, Ms. Youngor S. Telewoda, Justice Minister Benedict F. Sannoh, Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly, Commerce & Industry Minister Axel Addy, Public Works Minister W. Gyude Moore, Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn, Education Minister George K. Warner, Lands, Mines & Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo, Deputy Finance & Development Planning Minister Dr. Mounir Siaplay and Deputy Agriculture Minister Dr. Charles N. McClain.
During the Dialogue, Minister Ngafuan specifically wanted the discussions to place more emphasis on the nation’s post-Ebola recovery plan; adding: “One of the things we will delve into in these dialogues today will be the post-Ebola plan. It’s a 10-year Health Plan and where we are, funding gap, emphasis and challenges — because we are trying to encourage a multi-partner approach as Government does its best to intervene, partners would be encouraged to align around the Plan.”
Responding to each of the points that had been mentioned by Minister Ngafuan, Director General Maruyama promised to support vocational education through JICA. Speaking on support to the health sector, he said Japan will help Liberia fight Ebola or any other outbreak with high technology. He also stated that his government will provide support to a mobile clinic system and will provide additional ambulances, among others.
Ambassador Maruyama also mentioned that Japan will provide support in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, UNMIL drawdown and international cooperation.
Liberia-Japan relations predate the establishment of official diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level in 1962.
Liberia and Japan signed a Peace Treaty in 1952 as an antecedent to the long historic and deep-rooted friendship characterized by cordiality mutual respect and the exchange of high level visits between the two countries.
Over the years, Japan has made enormous financial and material contributions to Liberia amounting to several hundred million United States Dollars. Following the end of the 14-year Liberian civil war, Japan committed to the rebuilding of communities through disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) program for children associated with the warring factions.
From the 1970s to 1990s, within the context of the JICA, Japan granted training opportunities to more than 232 Liberians to pursue specialized studies at various Japanese colleges and universities.

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