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November 19, 2014

JICA President Tanaka Visits Palestine

photoPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and JICA President Akihiko Tanaka hold talks.
photoPalestinian Industrial Estate and Free Zone Authority CEO Ali Shaath, left, and Tanaka respond to questions from a Palestine TV reporter in front of the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park Administration Building.

For the first time since assuming office, JICA President Akihiko Tanaka visited Palestine on November 11 and 12, where he held talks with dignitaries and visited JICA project sites.

On November 11, Tanaka held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and announced that JICA would continue support on an elevated level with the aim of self-sustaining socio-economy and so that the fruits of peace can be shared with the Palestinian people. Also of note, Tanaka and Abbas both confirmed that economic development, public stabilization of peoples’ livelihood and assistance for the socially vulnerable would be advanced through the initiative of Corridor for Peace and Prosperity that Japan has taken since 2006.

That same day, Tanaka observed Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP), the site of key project under the initiative of Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, on the West Bank where he held talks with Palestinian Industrial Estate and Free Zone Authority CEO Ali Shaath and observed a presentation for local businesses interested in having a presence there. Given the high level of interest among local Palestinian businesses in JAIP, which is expected to create employment and make other major contributions to the economic development of the Jordan Valley, Tanaka confirmed that need for JICA to maintain technical cooperation to further attract domestic and foreign investors to JAIP.

On November 12, Tanaka held a videoconference from the JICA Ramallah Field Office with the JICA Alumni Association, which is active in the Gaza Strip where tremendous damage occurred during the confrontation this past summer. Composed of experienced participants in JICA programs, the JICA Alumni Association works on the ground, putting their achievement during the JICA programs to use in providing local assistance to residents particularly in areas where emergency assistance has not progressed adequately. As discussed in a speech by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the United Nations General Assembly in September, one such alumnus is Najjar Osama of the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority who, after participating in a solar power generation course held by JICA Kansai in 2011, headed implementation of a JICA follow-up cooperation program for installing solar power generation units in the emergency room in the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital. Those power generation units helped maintain hospital services during the confrontation this past summer and continue to provide power in the Gaza Strip which even now has a power shortage. After hearing about the conditions in the Gaza Strip directly from the JICA Alumni Association, Tanaka told them that JICA would do everything in its power to continue providing support.

Tanaka also held talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Mostafa, before wrapping up his visit to Palestine and returning to Japan on November 12.

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