May 14, 2018
Nikolasi Osimoni Fonua gives a presentation on his studies in Japan after returning to Tonga.
"I want to work to make it possible to build a better relationship between Tonga and Japan using the knowledge and contacts I developed in Japan," said Nikolasi Osimoni Fonua, the first graduate of Pacific Leaders’ Educational Assistance for Development of State (Pacific-LEADS).
Pacific-LEADS is a study-in-Japan program aimed at young professionals from the governments and private sectors of 14 countries in the South Pacific Islands that JICA has been carrying out since 2016. Mr. Fonua currently works at Tonga Power Limited.
JICA is helping to nurture a young generation to play important roles in the future of the Pacific Island countries.
Nikolasi Osimoni Fonua, center, with his parents, who came to Japan for his graduation ceremony.
Mr. Fonua went to Japan in August 2016 to study business administration at Nagoya University of Commerce & Business, and he graduated in March. His good grades made him 7th out of 80 students in all the school's classes, and he was recognized for his academic excellence at his graduation ceremony.
He was immediately reinstated at Tonga Power Limited after returning home and is now leading a busy life doing recovery work in an area that was damaged by a cyclone. Mr. Fonua, a technician, says he learned about financial planning, team management and administration in Japan. In the future he will also focus on business operations at Tonga Power Limited, and he is expected to become a leader in the field of electric power in Tonga and someone who can serve as a bridge between Tonga and Japan.
A gathering held in March to encourage participants studying in Japan as part of the Pacific Leaders’ Educational Assistance for Development of State program
The Pacific-LEADS program was announced at the 7th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting held in 2015. Nurturing core personnel in fields considered development challenges for the Pacific Island nations — disaster risk reduction, climate change, sustainable development, investment & trade, and economic policy — is an urgent matter.
JICA is carrying out this approximately two-year program for personnel in those fields from government and the private sector. They earn master's degrees and serve internships in the national or local governments. About 80 participants are currently studying in 32 graduate programs at 26 universities in Japan, and new participants will arrive in Japan in August. In three years, about 100 participants will study in Japan through this program.
Terry Rofino Atalifo, of the Fiji Meteorological Service, who is studying at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Science, and Edward Maru, of Solomon Islands Meteorological Services, who is studying at the University of the Ryukyus Graduate School of Engineering and Science, are both doing internships at Japan's Meteorological Agency.
"They're working hard in their internships. We expect this experience to lead to improvements in their meteorological work in their home countries," said their supervisor at the agency.
"Program participants not only gain specialized knowledge through their research in the master's programs and internships, they also build networks with specialists in Japan that will come in handy for solving problems in their home countries," said a coordinator at Asia SEED, which together with JICA has supported the participants since the beginning of the program.
This program is also expected to cultivate Japanophile government officials and entrepreneurs and to lead to stronger ties with Japan.
Installing a pipe at a trash disposal site on Yap in Micronesia to encourage decomposition of organic waste
JICA has been providing cooperation to Pacific Island countries in areas including the promotion of renewable energy, human resource training, water resource management and waste management. JICA, its volunteers and its private sector partners will continue to purse a variety of initiatives in a wide range of sectors.
Fourteen Pacific Island countries and Japan will hold the 8th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 8), which aims for stability and prosperity in the Pacific. At PALM 8, the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy" pursued by the Japanese government will be one major theme, and participants will discuss strengthening maritime assistance, including such topics as law enforcement measures at sea and support for fisheries resource management.