(left - right): Pro Chancellor & Chair of Council, Mr Ikbal Jannif, Ambassador of Japan to Fiji, H.E. Mr Eiichi Oshima, the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration & Regional Campuses), Dr Esther Williams at the launch of the Kizuna project. Insert: part of the crowd at the launch.
The University of the South Pacific in partnership with the Government of Japan launched a new project aimed at further promoting people-to-people exchange and better mutual understanding between Japanese and Pacific youths.
The new initiative called the Kizuna project was launched at the Multi-Purpose Theatre located at the University’s Laucala Campus in Suva.
Kizuna which means ‘Bonds of Friendship’ is a unique project designed to help build connections between the youths of Japan and the youths of 14 Pacific Island Countries (PICs). Under this project, high school and university students from around the region will be provided with fully-funded two-week study tours to Japan.
The project which was launched on 6 July 2012, was announced by the Government of Japan at the sixth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting in Okinawa, Japan in May earlier this year.
During the launch, His Excellency Mr Eiichi Oshima, Ambassador of Japan to Fiji, said that those participating in the project will get first-hand experience of Japan’s culture and environment through several exchange events to schools and local communities.
Participants will also get to visit the disaster-affected areas by the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred last year, he continued.
“It is hoped that this project will lead to building closer ties between Pacific youths and the people of Japan,” the Ambassador highlighted.
H.E. Mr Eiichi Oshima said that the Government and people of Japan look forward to welcoming Pacific youths in their country and is confident that such an experience in Japan would furnish the youths in many senses.
He acknowledged USP as the “perfect organisation to manage this project, with excellent management and coordination with its campuses, as well as its satellite communication tools for distance learning.”
While USP and Japan have enjoyed excellent relationship and cooperation over the decades, the Ambassador stated that the project marks the beginning of yet a new type of cooperation between USP and Japan, which directly concerns the development of youths in the region.
USP will play a critical role in the project through the selection of 322 participants from 14 PICs out of which 11 are the University’s member countries.
These 14 PICs include Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Each country group consisting of 22 students and one adult supervisor will travel to Japan at different times from late August to November 2012.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra said that the significance of this project is to foster a deep and meaningful relationship between the PICs and Japan.
Professor Chandra described the funding of over F$5.5million for the project by the Japanese Government, as a substantial contribution to the youths of the region.
“The Kizuna project is another example of the extensive and long-standing assistance to the Pacific and to USP by the Government and the people of Japan,” he stated.
Professor Chandra explained that the USP campus directors will be assisting with the selection of students from their respective countries as well as assistance will be provided by the University’s Pacific Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment In-Country Coordinators based in FSM, Palau and PNG.
The launch was attended by representatives from government, donor partners, diplomatic missions and secondary schools.
Applications for the Kizuna project will close on 31 July, 2012.