Uruguay, located on the other side of the globe from Japan, is the exact opposite of Japan in terms of time and season.
Although Uruguay is a small country with a little less than 3.5 million inhabitants, it is known in history for being the host and winner of the first World Soccer Championship in 1930. It is also known for celebrating the 1986 Uruguay Round of the GATT (organization predecessor of the World Trade Organization, WTO). More recently, the country is known throughout the world by former President Mujica who was said to be the world's "poorest" president.
Regarding relations with Japan, during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Uruguay sent relief supplies such as corned beef and donations of over $ 500,000 to the affected areas. In addition, the victory of the Uruguay national team in the first match of the Rugby World Cup held in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, on September 25, 2019, gave great excitement and hope to the people of both countries.
Uruguay is currently one of the most politically stable and economically most developed countries in Latin America, and in January 2018 it ceased to be included in the list of countries eligible to receive Official Development Assistance (ODA). However, Japan decided to continue support in consideration of the development situation and diplomatic needs, and JICA is continuing to cooperate in response to this.
Japan's technical cooperation with Uruguay has been implemented since the 1960s, more than half a century ago, but JICA's cooperation began in earnest in the 1980s. In particular, JICA's support has contributed significantly to the development of the country's core industries such as forestry, agriculture, and livestock. Since the beginning of the 2000s, we have been supporting the country's sustainable development in the fields of environmental conservation such as water pollution control and renewable energy.
Uruguay is graduating from the country receiving the aid, but while there are still problems of disparity in the society and it is urgent to take measures for environmental conservation including climate change countermeasures. In order to achieve "human security and quality growth" in the country, JICA will continue to grant training scholarships in Japan and third countries, as well as sending Japanese volunteers (senior experts) for cooperation abroad to Uruguay. And through Follow-up program, we are planning to provide assistance to maintain a continuous development of the results of past cooperations.
Uruguay's economic growth, making efficient use of ODA and investment funds, makes it an example for developing countries. In recent years, the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation (AUCI) has actively promoted South-South cooperation, sharing its experience with the countries of the region, in parallel with the continuous acceptance of aid. In order to promote an efficient and effective dissemination of the results achieved with the cooperation with JICA to the countries of Latin America, we are considering together with AUCI to implement triangular cooperation.
Through JICA's long history of cooperation, more than 1,000 Uruguayan received technical training in Japan. On the other hand, there is a small Japanese community (Nikkei) in the country. In the future implementation of JICA's cooperation, it is important to support and cooperate with the activities of these pro-Japanese people who have already made significant contributions to the country's economic and social development.
Finally, the year 2021 is the Centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Uruguay. While facing the impact of COVID-19 persisting from the beginning of 2020, JICA Uruguay Office will continue to make efforts in the field of cooperation to further strengthen the bond of friendship and trust between the two countries that has been built so far.