Foreign minister hails outgoing Japanese ambassador

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has hailed Japan’s outgoing Ambassador to Jamaica Hiromasa Yamazaki for helping to further deepen bilateral relations between the countries over the last three years.

She was speaking during Tuesday’s signing ceremony for the Government of Japan’s provision of approximately $262 million (¥200 million) in grant support for Jamaica’s national novel coronavirus response.

Ambassador Yamazaki, who was appointed as Japan’s top diplomatic representative in Jamaica in 2017, is slated to conclude his tour of duty shortly.

Senator Johnson Smith said that during Ambassador Yamazaki’s tenure, relations between Jamaica and Japan have strengthened “thanks to your invaluable contribution”, noting that the Government is “greatly appreciative”.

She said that as a “genuine and reliable friend of Jamaica”, Japan continues to support the country’s economic and social growth and development through several programmes.

The minister said that Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s official working visit to Japan last December, reaffirmed the countries’ shared values and mutual desire to continue pursuing close collaborations in the areas of education and training, energy, trade and investments, climate change, and disaster risk reduction.

These, the minister added, “all demonstrate that our J-J [Jamaica-Japan] partnership is not only alive, but continues to thrive”.

Senator Johnson Smith thanked Ambassador Yamazaki and his team for continuing the work on the many tangible outcomes following the visit.

“I express appreciation, in particular, for the most recent disbursement of grant funds to acquire four patrol vessels to assist with Jamaica’s maritime security and disaster response. This will significantly improve our capacity and efficiency in maritime security,” she added.

She noted that the ¥200-million grant, provided through the Japanese Government’s Economic and Social Development Programme, represents another positive development in the long-standing and dynamic relationship between the two countries.

The funds will be used to purchase much-needed equipment and supplies for public health facilities islandwide, including bedside X-ray machines and monitors, X-ray protection screens and aprons, ultrasound scanners, and defibrillators.

“The supplies will, undoubtedly, make a sustainable positive impact on our public health infrastructure, and what better way to wrap up the tour of duty than to conclude an agreement with such meaningful and significant impact,” Senator Johnson Smith said.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke, for his part, noted that the grant provision “follows on a long tradition of social and economic support from the Government of Japan to Jamaica”.

The minister said acquisition of the medical devices “will greatly assist Jamaica in our fight against COVID-19 and in normalising our economy”.

Ambassador Yamazaki, in his remarks, assured that the Government and people of Japan “stand in solidarity with the people and Government of Jamaica”, adding that “our embassy will continue to work with the Government in whatever ways we can to effectively contribute to the development efforts of Jamaica”.

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