May 14, 2015
From May 11 to 13, Akihiko Tanaka, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency visited Iraq. During his stay, he had a series of meetings with Foad Masoum, president of the Republic of Iraq, Haider al Abadi, prime minister of the Republic of Iraq, and Nachirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, center, after the talks. (From center to left area Abadi, JICA President Akihiko Tanaka, Japanese Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Iraq Kazuya Nashida, and other Japan-side participants.)
Iraq, despite its rich oil endowments, is facing a number of challenges, especially since last June. Japan has been supporting Iraq's reconstruction efforts and the commitment amount reached USD 7.5 billion, well beyond its initial commitment amount of USD 5 billion in 2003. Just recently, the Government of Japan announced its new aid commitment for two new projects through official development assistance (ODA) loans.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan’s comprehensive development institution, has been supporting a number of strategic infrastructure projects through its ODA loans and hosting more than 6,700 officials for various knowledge co-sharing programs in Japan and other countries. JICA set up its office in Baghdad in 2011 and has been actively coordinating with the Iraqi authorities.
Tanaka, at a meeting with the Prime Minister Abadi, expressed JICA's willingness to continue its cooperation with Iraq in the field of infrastructure and human resource development, and his hope to contribute to improving administrative and social services, which will lead to stability and vigorous reconstruction of the country. He also stressed the importance of completing on-going projects in a timely manner so the results, improvement of services, can be actually felt by the people of Iraq. Tanaka also expressed his appreciation for the monitoring framework jointly managed by the Government of Iraq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and JICA.
Abadi expressed his appreciation for the bilateral cooperation with Japan and his commitment to further supporting JICA's activities in Iraq. In addition, he expressed his expectation to receive further support from Japan to address the current challenges Iraq is facing.
During his stay in Baghdad, Tanaka also participated in an informal discussion with professors from the University of Baghdad on academic exchanges between Japan and Iraqin collaboration with the JICA Alumni Association of Iraq (JAAI).
After the series of meetings in Baghdad, Tanaka visited Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and attended a meeting with Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdisntan Regional Government. They discussed ongoing technical cooperation and ODA loan projects in the region, especially how to expedite the projects and bring about good results. Tanaka visited a camp of internally displaced people in Erbil. He also participated in an informal discussion with Japanese nationals working in various venues such as the private sector, NGOs and the United Nations.