GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Japan’s Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Yoshimasa Tezuka, has declared that despite its modest size, the Community has significant political leverage when seeking to promote its interests in the international arena and therefore cannot be underestimated.
Speaking at the opening session of the fifteenth CARICOM-Japan consultations at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown on Monday, Tezuka stated that CARICOM had not only proved itself internationally, but had achieved notable success among the individual member states in health, education, disaster management and other important areas.
In his estimation, Japan and CARICOM enjoyed friendly bilateral relations, but “there remains much potential that we can and should develop, thus I look forward to all of us working together to further strengthen Japan-CARICOM cooperative ties,” he said.
Against this background, Tezuka said it was necessary to review cooperative efforts and follow-up on the implementation of the frameworks adopted at the first and the second Japan-CARICOM ministerial conferences, the Japan-CARICOM Partnership Programme and the Japan-CARICOM Public Private Joint Economic Mission held last November.
The fifteenth CARICOM-Japan consultation provides a forum for dialogue on bilateral and technical cooperation programmes, including the frameworks adopted at the first and second CARICOM Ministerial meetings, held in November 2000 and September 2010 respectively. The meeting is sharing views on the status of the Partnership Programme and the CARICOM-Japan Public Private Joint Economic Mission held in 2011. They are also exchanging views on outcomes of the United Nations Rio+ 20 Conference on Sustainable Development, and on other issues related to the environment.
Head of the Japan delegation and co-chair of the consultation, Ambassador Akira Yamada, director general, Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, also speaking at the opening session, agreed that CARICOM had a very strong and important voice in the international arena, particularly on issues relating to the environment.
Caribbean countries he added were becoming more important to the international community and this had signaled to Japan the importance of strengthening their relations with the Community. He too agreed that there was scope for enhancing existing cooperation programmes.
CARICOM /Japan consultations started in 1993 and have since covered a wide range of areas of technical cooperation, including disaster management, business and tourism development, and agriculture.
To date, the CARICOM-Japan relations have witnessed a New Framework for Japan-CARICOM Cooperation for the Twenty-First Century (2010) that outlined a number of political, economic and social areas of collaboration. Under this framework, Japan provides technical assistance for projects funded under the Japan-CARICOM Friendship and Cooperation Fund (JCFCF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
More than 35 projects in thematic areas of tourism, environmental protection and energy have been implemented in CARICOM member states since 2001.