GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Anthony Liverpool, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda, has applauded Japan for being one of the few countries to date that have provided their full pledge to Haiti.
Japan, he stated, had pledged and delivered the sum of US$100 million to the Haiti reconstruction programme, after the country was hit by a major earthquake in January 2010.
Liverpool was delivering opening remarks as co-chair of the fifteenth CARICOM-Japan Consultation that opened in Georgetown on Monday at the CARICOM Secretariat. The consultation, he stated, was organized to review the technical cooperation relationship, and the successes achieved thus far.
It is also examining ways to strengthen future CARICOM-Japan partnership, within the context of the CARICOM’s current situation, which according to Liverpool, “has seen many developments and gains, but which still grapples with many challenges precipitated by the global economic and financial crisis among other factors.”
Liverpool pointed to the strength of the relationship between Japan and CARICOM, noting that “the fact that this occasion marks the fifteenth time that we are convening for consultations between the officials of CARICOM and Japan is testimony to the valuable and long-standing relations that have been forged between the member states of the Caribbean Community and Japan.”
According to Liverpool, formal relations with Japan, established since 1993, had borne fruit that was evident in a number of cooperation initiatives and technical projects in a wide range of areas, which had redounded to the benefit of the Community and its peoples.
He referred to the New Framework for Japan-CARICOM Cooperation for the Twenty-First Century, which came out of the second CARICOM-Japan Ministerial Conference in September 2010, and explained that the framework provided the scope for further collaboration in a number of political, economic and social areas.
He also expressed hope that the consultation would help to advance the necessary follow-up work to concretize the decisions from that meeting. However, he hastened to note that follow-up work had already started: for example the convening of the CARICOM-Japan Public-Private Joint Economic Mission, culminating with a CARICOM-Japan business seminar held in Trinidad and Tobago in November 2011.
Liverpool also referred to the earthquake and tsunami, which hit Japan in March 2011 and claimed the lives of thousands of Japanese citizens, as well as the consequent fallout from the damage to the nuclear facility at Fukushima. Those disasters, he stated, were poignant reminders of the vulnerability of both large and small states to natural disasters; and emphasized the need for greater collaboration in disaster management and risk reduction.
In his response, head of the Japanese delegation, Ambassador Akira Yamada, director general, Latin American and Caribbean affairs thanked the CARICOM Secretariat for organizing the consultation and noted that the Caribbean Community had a very strong and important voice in the international arena, particularly on issues relating to the environment.
“Caribbean countries are becoming more and more important to the international community,” he added. This, he said had also signaled the importance of Japan strengthening its relations with the Community. He remarked that while existing relations “is good” there was however room for enhancing such relations. He mentioned the proposed 2014 CARICOM-Japan Friendship Year Collaboration as one of the tools that could be used to strengthen CARICOM-Japan relations.
To this, the Japanese ambassador to CARICOM Yoshimasa Tezuka agreed and added that CARICOM could not be underestimated as demonstrated in its political leverage in the international arena.