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May 18, 2018

JICA President Kitaoka Visits Iceland and Finland, Speaks at the Iceland Geothermal Conference, Meets With Dignitaries

JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka visited Iceland and Finland on April 23-28.

Mr. Kitaoka was invited to the fourth Iceland Geothermal Conference, sponsored by the Iceland Geothermal Cluster Initiative, which was established in 2009. He spoke at the event and met with dignitaries in both countries.

In Iceland, which he visited April 25-28, Mr. Kitaoka gave the keynote address at the closing ceremony of the Iceland Geothermal Conference (IGC). In his speech, Mr. Kitaoka asserted that to realize Sustainable Development Goal No. 7, "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all," it is necessary to strengthen coordination in the international community and to use every available means. He added that geothermal energy can greatly contribute to realizing that goal and that JICA will strengthen its contribution to the development of geothermal energy.

Mr. Kitaoka met with Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the former president of Iceland (1996 to 2016) who serves as the chair of the Iceland Geothermal Cluster Initiative and of the Arctic Circle*. The two men discussed the importance of international cooperation to climate change countermeasures, including sustainable arctic development, and the possibility of cooperation that makes use of the strengths of Japan and Iceland, including geothermal energy development and the fishing industry.

In a meeting with Sturla Sigurjónsson, permanent secretary of state, the two men discussed the characteristics of the development cooperation of Iceland and Japan, the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy" pursued by the Japanese government, and the possibilities for deepening their respective countries' partnerships in sectors such as geothermal energy development.

Mr. Kitaoka visited Hellisheiði Power Station, Iceland's largest geothermal power station. While discussing how the use of geothermic energy in Iceland differs from that in Japan, he heard an explanation of innovations for using geothermal power plants as tourism resources by leveraging their surrounding scenery.

In Finland, which he visited April 23-25, Mr. Kitaoka met with Anne-Mari Virolainen, minister for foreign trade and development. They discussed topics including the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy" pursued by the Japanese government, the necessity of a transition to a circular economy — a matter on which the two countries share interest and expertise — and possibilities for partnering on development cooperation based on those commonalities. Mr. Kitaoka also met with Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland (1994-2000) who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008. They discussed changes in international cooperation in recent years, as well as possibilities for partnering with various actors including European partners in the field of peace building and conflict prevention.

Mr. Kitaoka met with Pasi Hellman, managing director of the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), established by the five members; Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The two men discussed the importance of innovative assistance approaches in fields such as climate change countermeasures and geothermal energy development, as well as possibilities for future partnerships.

Amid international trends in the field of development, JICA will continue to work with its various partners to contribute to solving global development issues.

*An international organization that brings together people from different fields in the realms of government, research and business. Its primary objectives include promoting dialogue and building relationships to respond responsibly to changes in the Arctic.

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