August 23, 2016
In August 2016, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) started a program called Pacific Leaders’ Educational Assistance for Development of State (Pacific-LEADS) to provide opportunities for young leaders in Pacific Island countries to obtain master’s degrees at Japanese universities and to do internships at ministries or local governments in Japan. The aim is to develop core human resources that have the technical knowledge necessary to solve development challenges in Pacific Island countries.
For the first stage of the program, 41 participants arrived in Japan through August 24 from the following 10 countries; Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
At the 7th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7) held in May 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that, from the perspectives of overcoming vulnerabilities in Pacific Island countries, opportunities would be provided by inviting young leaders to Japan from the countries with the goal of fostering human resources. He explained that the initiative is aimed at developing human resources who can play vital roles in the future of their countries. Pacific-LEADS started this fiscal year and a total of 100 participants will be invited by 2018.
After arriving in Japan, the participants are scheduled to attend an orientation held for about three weeks in Okinawa, where three Pacific Islands Leaders Meetings (PALM) have been held in the past. Participants will matriculate at two-year master programs at 18 universities. The main areas of research are environmental science, engineering, economics and business, international relations, education and agriculture.