FOCUS: PM’s Continuing Japan Message

Honourable Ministers, Honourable Parliamentary Vice Ministers, Honourable Members of the Japanese Parliament, The Chairman of the Japan/Fiji Friendship Parliamentary League, Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps; Senior Officials from
21 May 2015 08:25
FOCUS: PM’s Continuing Japan Message
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama inspects an honour guard with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo.

Honourable Ministers,

Honourable Parliamentary Vice Ministers,

Honourable Members of the Japanese Parliament,

The Chairman of the Japan/Fiji Friendship Parliamentary League,

Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps;

Senior Officials from the various government Departments and Ministries,

Senior Representatives of Japanese businesses and corporations,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very Good Evening to you all

I’m delighted and honoured by your presence here tonight during an important week both for Fiji and our Pacific neighbours as we come together for the PALM 7 Summit with Japan.

It is been a great privilege for me as the Fijian Prime Minister to be visiting Japan and to meet so many of its people.

Fijians have always had a wonderful relationship with the Japanese people. And while the Japanese Government has had its differences with ours in recent years, nothing has altered the warmth of our relationships at a personal level.

As you know, I was told I was not welcome at the last PALM Summit, something that we deeply regretted as a leading Pacific Island nation.

At the time, we were undergoing a reform programme in Fiji to produce the first genuine democracy in our history of equal votes of equal value. And we delivered that historic achievement at our General Election last September. So we were naturally disappointed that the Japanese Government at that time did not appear to recognise the value of our reform programme.

As I told your Honourable Prime Minister during the bilateral meeting we held yesterday, Fiji’s view is that Japan should not have taken advice from third parties in deciding its own position on our nation’s direction.

We seek a relationship that is more open and more direct. And I’m very pleased to say that we are now laying the groundwork for such a relationship, based on the principle of mutual understanding and respect.

I’m also pleased to say that the warmth that used to characterise our relationship has been rekindled. And I especially want to thank Prime Minister Abe and his Government for the kindness and consideration they have shown towards me and the Fijian delegation on this visit.

We are putting the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the past behind us and are taking our relationship to a  new level. And in that spirit, I have invited Prime Minister Abe to make an official visit to Fiji as soon as he can find the time to do so.

We have already had the honour, within the past year, to host the leaders of China, India and Indonesia, among others. And we look forward to honouring the leader of this great nation – Japan – with the same warmth and the same Fijian hospitality.

The Fijian people are deeply grateful to the Japanese Government and Japanese people for their friendship over many years, including the generous development assistance that has made so much of a difference to so many lives. I convey to you all here tonight our sincere thanks for that assistance. And an assurance of our continuing friendship now and in the years to come.

In my discussions with Prime Minister Abe, we canvassed a range of other ways in which the relationship can be strengthened at a government-to government level.

But I also stressed the importance to him of expanding high level exchanges at a business level. And also the importance of people-to-people exchanges – ordinary Fijians and ordinary Japanese visiting each other’s countries and learning more about each other and our rich cultural traditions.

We are already great friends. But we can make those ties of friendship deeper and stronger. And we will.

To that end, I want to say a few words to the representatives of Japanese business in this room. And to repeat the message I gave to a group of Japanese business people at our meeting earlier today.

Japan has a history of investment in Fiji. But the conditions for doing business in Fiji have never been more attractive. If you are already doing business in Fiji, we invite you to consider strengthening your engagement. And if you are thinking of doing business in Fiji, then I can tell you the time to do so is now.

There are tremendous opportunities being presented on the back of an extended period of growth that has seen the Fijian economy expand by four per cent or more each year for the past three years.

Our Ambassador in Tokyo and other members of the Fijian mission are eager to work with you, along with our Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism in Suva.

But let me just give you are brief summary of some of the benefits of our reform programme that have transformed Fiji’s investment climate:

– low rates of corporate and personal tax:

– a range of investment incentives including tax holidays in certain areas of the country:

–  a fundamental improvement in our infrastructure including a massive public investment to improve the nation’s road network.

– Reform of our wharves to eliminate shipping delays and reduce the cost of exports and imports.

– A massive investment in our airports and our national airline – Fiji Airways – to make travel to and from Fiji easier and reinforce our position as a Pacific hub.

– A massive investment in telecommunications to give Fiji 95 per cent mobile coverage and develop 3G and 4G networks.

– A major reform of our civil service beginning this year to reduce red tape and promote a culture of efficiency and excellence.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

All these improvements mean that Fiji is not only open for business. There has never been a better time to  do business in Fiji. And I invite you all to avail yourselves of the assistance we are providing to point out those opportunities.

Fiji currently enjoys Japanese investment including in tourism, fishing and education services.Sectors where there are further opportunities include light manufacturing, medical services, agro-business processing, fisheries, horticulture – including flowers for export – to name but a few.

I would also like to invite you as individuals to visit Fiji – whether you have done so before or have yet to enjoy the Fijian experience – our pristine Pacific environment and a host of attractions. And especially the unique interaction with the Fijian people.

I always say there are plenty of other places where you can find a beach and a cold drink. I know many Japanese go to Guam. But there is nowhere that has the unique attraction of the Fijian people – renowned the world over for their friendliness and hospitality.

Our new tourism slogan sums it all up – “Fiji. Where happiness Finds You”. So I urge you all to find your own happiness in Fiji. Just as I want Prime Minister Abe to find happiness when we eventually have the privilege of hosting him.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, It has given me great happiness to be in Japan and to be with you all tonight.

Thank you for your welcome and your friendship. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can. And we all look forward to taking our partnership to new heights.

Vinaka vakalevu. Arigato Gozaimasu.



Five square Da Bang Sale

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram