Dr Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Professor Derrick Armstrong, Acting Vice-Chancellor & President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and International.
Dr Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) paid a courtesy visit to The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus on 6 April 2018.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Acting Vice-Chancellor & President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and International warmly welcomed Dr Kitaoka and his delegation to the Campus.
The JICA delegation included Mr Eigo Azukizawa, Deputy Director General for Southeast Asia 5, 6 and Pacific JICA headquarters; Mr Shinya Tamio, Deputy Resident Representative, JICA Fiji; Mr Shunichido Ikeda, Assistant Resident Representative, JICA Fiji; Mr Shin Suto, Assistant Resident Representative, JICA Fiji; and Mrs Frances Finau-Tavaiqia, Programme Officer.
Prior to assuming his current post, Dr Kitaoka was a Professor of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) and Professor of Graduate Schools for Law and Politics at the University of Tokyo, and President of the International University of Japan. He was also Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, and Professor of College of Law and Politics, Rikkyo University.
Professor Armstrong said the relationship between USP and JICA has been a long-standing one and through this continued support and collaboration, the University has positioned itself to serve the Pacific region specifically around the areas of research in ICT and marine studies.
JICA, he said, has continued to support the University in providing technical assistance in the areas of specific research thematic areas where the assistance of key experts in these different areas are funded under the JICA programme and are seconded to the University for a period of one year.
“Besides supporting these key areas of the University, JICA strongly encourages the University to engage in other areas like Climate Change, Renewable and Sustainable Energy where they can access these technical assistance services,” he said.
Professor Armstrong further noted that the Government of Japan was instrumental in the construction of the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, which is the facility that houses the state-of-the-art ICT laboratories for students.
Dr Kitaoka acknowledged the warm welcome extended by Prof. Armstrong, stating that JICA is proud of its longstanding relationship with USP and through USP, its contribution to educational excellence in the Pacific region.
He was impressed with how advanced USP is in terms of the online courses and facilities available such as the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre and noted that much of this was a result of the collaboration between JICA and USP.
Dr Kitaoka was also interested to hear that USP’s remote campuses have been able to connect through USPNet and students have been able to access course materials and interact directly with course coordinators in real-time.
He commended the Fijian Government and its people for the progress it is making including its activeness in issues like maritime and climate change.
“I am also very impressed with USP and the even bigger role it plays and the University is clearly becoming the regional hub in providing higher education,” he said.
Furthermore, he talked about JICA’s assistance and reaffirmed its support to the University saying he hoped that the partnership between JICA and USP will not only be strengthened but will continue to grow.
Professor Armstrong explained the role of the University in the region, with particular emphasis on higher education, regional integration, research, innovation, internationalisation and regional mandate on ICT and Human Resource Development.
“USP is working strenuously towards being an institution of excellence and this sees its role being broadened from a premier tertiary education provider in the region to being an influential research and regional integration organisation,” he said.
He also informed the delegation that USP met the USPNet Consultancy team to discuss JICA’s potential assistance towards enhancing the USPNet system and way forward.
Based on the earlier agreement in principle between USP, JICA and New Zealand, this funding is for the upgrade of the USPNet facilities at the regional campuses, while the USPNet Satellite Hub at Laucala Campus will be supported by JICA through the Grant Aid Funding.
Professor Armstrong expressed gratitude to JICA for its continued support and financial assistance to the University over the years.
He added that JICA’s continued support and technical assistance helps the University to be responsive to the needs of the Pacific region.
Professor Armstrong acknowledged Dr Kitaoka and his delegation and mentioned that the University continues to progress discussions on how best to further enhance the relationship, which is of great value to the University.
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