May 19, 2023
with Prime Minister Marape
at the "Nadzab Tomodachi International Airport" nameplate unveiling ceremony
with the University of Papua New Guinea students
JICA President Tanaka Akihiko visited Papua New Guinea (PNG) from April 17 to 20 to inspect JICA's cooperative projects and meet with Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, and other key government officials.
PNG has the largest land area of any Pacific Island country and is considered a regional powerhouse that is rich in mineral resources such as gold and copper, and natural resources such as oil and natural gas. On the other hand, the country's traditional approach to land ownership has led to limited state-owned land, and delays in the development of basic infrastructure such as transportation and electricity have hindered economic development and contributed to poverty. Improving public safety is also an issue and requires orderly development and growth.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Marape and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tkatchenko, President Tanaka noted that Japan and PNG have been long-standing partners since the Second World War and that JICA looks forward to continuing their solid cooperative relationship. Prime Minister Marape expressed his appreciation for the quality of the projects that JICA has carried out so far, as well as his hope to continue to conduct people-to-people and economic interactions to encourage the development of both countries. Both parties confirmed the need to further strengthen the relationship between Japan and PNG through ODA.
President Tanaka, together with Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Rosso and Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation Hon. Walter David Schnaubelt, visited the construction site of the "Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project," a loan assistance project nearing completion, and attended the nameplate unveiling ceremony. Once construction is completed, Nadzab Airport, which is located on the outskirts of PNG's second-largest economic city, Lae, will be able to accommodate international flights in addition to existing domestic flights, contributing to the further development of PNG. At the ceremony, the Minister expressed his appreciation for JICA's cooperation and informed the audience that upon completion, the name of the airport will be changed to Nadzab Tomodachi International Airport, ("tomodachi" meaning "friend" in Japanese) in order to express the close relationship between PNG and Japan.
Lae is the commercial and industrial center of PNG, and an urgent response to the rapidly increasing demand for electricity in the city is thus essential. One such response has been the loan-assistance "Ramu Transmission System Reinforcement Project," which expanded the Erap substation. President Tanaka visited the substation, witnessing the site where 138 km of transmission lines were laid and new, expanded, and refurbished substation facilities were installed. The Chief Executive Officer of PNG Power Limited expressed his gratitude for Japan's support for the project, which will provide a stable supply of electricity to the region centered around Lae, and his hope that the project will revitalize the economy and improve the living environment of the local residents.
Up to now, JICA has developed math and science textbooks and teachers’ manuals for elementary students in grades 3 through 6 in PNG. Currently, teaching materials for students and instructional materials for instructors in the science and mathematics departments of teacher training colleges are being prepared so that aspiring teachers can properly use these textbooks and provide high-quality education. To witness the fruits of these efforts, President Tanaka also visited the Education Media Centre, with which Japan has cooperated for many years, and observed the creation of remote teaching materials using the science and mathematics textbooks and teachers’ manuals that have been formulated. President Tanaka expressed JICA’s hope for its technical cooperation project to support the training of elementary-level education teachers, saying that education is the cornerstone of a country's development and that long-term efforts in this field are needed.
President Tanaka also visited the University of Papua New Guinea and interacted with students enrolled in the JICA Chair, which opened in February 2022, to study the process of Japan's modernization and economic growth and to examine the development of their own country. In response to questions from students about the background of Japan's successful modernization, President Tanaka said that the agency would be happy if the JICA Chair lectures could serve as an introduction to the Japanese experience and help students consider how to shape their own societies.