Ambassador Michii impressed with JENESYS Programme spearheaded by USP


Participants of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) Programme, together with stakeholders from The University of the South Pacific (USP), the Japan Embassy in Fiji, and guests celebrated the JENESYS 2022 Phase II and JENESYS 2023 Closing Event at Novotel in Lami, Fiji, last Thursday (Feb 15, 2024).

Organised by the USP International Office, the event also serves as an opportunity for the university to thank the Government of Japan, the Japan Overseas Cooperative Association, key stakeholders, and everyone involved in the successful execution of the project.

The JENESYS programme stands as a testament to the commitment of both Japan and the Pacific Island nations to strengthen ties through cultural exchange, academic cooperation, and people-to-people connections.

In 2011, it was announced in the Islanders’ Hokkaido Declaration of PALM5 (Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting) Japan’s continued commitment to the ‘Kizuna’ Plan.

This project would see the building of closer relations between Japan and the Pacific Island Countries (PIC) in the period after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. Towards the Sixth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM6), held in Okinawa, Japan (25 and 26 May 2012), the Government of Japan launched the

“Kizuna” Project to further promote people-to-people exchange and mutual understanding between Japanese and Pacific Island youth.

After the success of the Kizuna project, there have been JENESYS 2.0, JENESYS 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and now 2022. JENESYS 2022 Phase II and JENESYS 2023 will be the 10th Projects USP has successfully coordinated. This is the only project coordinated by the Government of Japan that portrays cultural diversity with Japan and Pacific countries.

Delivering the opening address of the event, USP Deputy Vice-Chancellor Regional Campuses and Global Engagements, Dr Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Paunga, reiterated the pivotal role USP plays in facilitating the smooth coordination of the project and its unwavering dedication to promoting regional cooperation and development.

“Since the Kizuna project, USP has successfully overseen the coordination of 10 projects, leaving a memorable mark on the lives of over 1,000 alumni.”

“Today, we gather not only to celebrate the achievements of the projects but also to reflect on the enduring bonds of friendship and collaboration fostered between the Pacific Islands Forum member countries and Japan.”

The JENESYS Closing Event also provided the chance for Japan’s Ambassador to Fiji, His Excellency Rokuichiro Michii, to make his first appearance at a USP event.

Ambassador Michii began his address by solemnly expressing his heartfelt appreciation for the traditional welcome, the ‘I-sevusevu’ accorded to him. Speaking to guests, stakeholders, and participants, Ambassador Michii stressed their commitment to align the project to USP’s objective to internationalise the university’s culture, engagement, and impact and increase outgoing and incoming mobility for USP students under the 2022-2024 USP Strategic Plan.

Ambassador Michii further stated that for Pacific Island Countries and Japan, the Pacific Ocean is a source of “Megumi”, or blessings, but it now also poses challenges to us such as climate change, sea level rise, and the changing geopolitics of the region. These factors collectively enlighten the need to align, commit, and mobilise ourselves, our societies, and our nations to address the challenges. We need to get connected, know each other better, and understand the diversity of societies.

The Ambassador also stressed that on 11 and 12 February 2024, the Japanese Foreign Minister made a successful visit to Fiji and Samoa. The visit included the PALM Ministerial Interim Meeting in Fiji. Among the topic of discussion was people-to-people exchange.

“JENESYS is precisely the programme that implements this people-to-people exchange tangibly on the ground, especially focusing on the youth of the Pacific and Japan. Many ministers mentioned how highly they valued this program during the ministerial meeting.”

Ambassador Michii also paid tribute to the Japan-Pacific Alumni Association (JPAA) which was formed in 2013 by participants of the JENESYS Programme. He acknowledged the increasing membership of the JPAA and thanked its members for their active contribution to strengthening the ties between USP, Fiji, the Pacific Island Countries, and Japan.

In his address, he also welcomed Japanese university students as part of the JENESYS Outbound programme. During the eight-day tour, the delegation from Japan will be visiting Official development sites and a cultural engagement program at the University of the South Pacific.
JENESYS is an opportunity for Pacific Islands Youth to learn more about Japan, its culture, and innovation while also sharing the Pacific way of life and deepening the connection between the Pacific and Japan through people-to-people engagement.

He further congratulated the JENESYS 2022 Phase II and JENESYS 2023 Programme participants on being 92 of the best and brightest students from 12 Pacific Island Countries to have completed eight-day visit programmes to Japan for the first time in two years, since the pandemic.

Ambassador Michii thanked USP leadership and stakeholders for all the support given to the JENESYS Programmes and concluded his address by expressing his confidence in the JENESYS Programs continuing to build bridges of friendship between USP, Fiji, the Pacific Island Countries, and Japan in the coming years.

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