A friend of Samoa and former Ambassador of Japan in Samoa, Tuimaugaoali’i Kazumasa Shibuta, is leaving the country with many fond memories of his time here.
Finishing up his five-year tenure in Samoa, the Japanese career diplomat was a popular figure among the international bureaucrats here in Samoa.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, he revealed that not only was it the end of his tenure in Samoa, he is also retiring his diplomatic hat for good.
“I am very happy to retire here in Samoa as a last place for me,” said Tuimaugaoalii. “My term is already completed and when I return to Japan I’m going to my second life of no obligations. Also I can say anything, anything! - I will be a free man.
“So no more work but I have a lot of time and I will use this time to spread information of Samoa to my friends and the public of Japan.”
Tuimauga said in a heartfelt response that he has enjoyed his time in Samoa immensely and that he will take back with him the experiences and lessons he has learned from the culture and traditions.
“I have learnt lots of things from Polynesia and from Samoa,” he said.
“One of them is very important especially for Japan. The unification of the family and the people are becoming lost in Japan however I learnt the importance in the unification of the family and community in Samoa so I want to spread this important idea in Japan.
“In Japan there are a lot of people standing in the train and nobody has eye contact and they avoid looking at each other.
“In Samoa when I meet people, they look you in the eye and talk to you. I think this is something special to this area, in Asia and Europe people are cool but in Samoa people are very warm and that is a very important idea.”
Known for his quick grasp of some aspects of the Samoan formal language, Tuimauga expressed that becoming familiar with the Samoan language was a challenge during his tenure as the Ambassador.
But he considered it one of the most poetic languages he has ever come across,
“I have to say, the Samoan language is a very unique language. Samoan is very soft, it is my first time to hear the sound and there are lot of vowels, it means it’s coming from the heart.
“You don’t have the “ka’ sound in your language, it is a very heavy sound. Your sound “ga” is very soft - this is sound is coming from your spirit. Also your tradition, when I hear you talking it sounds like a song or a poem, it’s very soft and very unique.”
In a passionate statement, the former Japanese Ambassador wanted to encourage Samoa to reach its potential and imparted some sound business development advice for the agricultural sector.
He was particularly impressed with the development of whiskey from talo which he had sampled recently.
“You have a lot of potential product here in Samoa because of the strong sun, a lot of water and very unique soil that produce. You have an advantage to make such a product in essential oils and flavours.
“How about this taro whiskey? It’s good!” he said.
“This is very interesting and you should promote unique ideas and unique products from Samoa. I hope you will be more challenged to produce new products and to understand what the market is interested in.”
“So please announce to all producers to work together, not only just the moso’oi but the breadfruit and also they produce the talo whiskey. I tested the whiskey and its good, really good -this is the first ever taro whiskey in the world.”
He had a message for specific groups in the agricultural sector about the potential for producing and exporting moso’oi essential oils (ylang ylang)
“I ask the S.R.O.S to work harder,” he said. “I would like to ask through the media that the farmers and also S.R.O.S to produce more quantity and higher quality because now the essential oil of ylang ylang is one of the most valuable essential oils in the world market.”
In one last get-together with the media in Samoa and perhaps with any media, the long time diplomat shined at his best and demonstrated that sometimes the key to having a successful career is having a sense of humour as a way to connect - no matter what the language.
At 63 years of age which is the retirement age in Japan, the energetic and likeable Tuimaugaoali’i left one last pearl of wisdom for Samoa to shed light on how one can stay younger for longer.
“In my country - there is a saying that ‘crazy doesn’t get old.” So, if you get stressed you will get old…but crazy never gets stressed.”
Tuimauga said that he looks forward to leaving behind bureaucratic life and getting back into connecting with the local people in his home of Japan.
The former ambassador said that he will miss the friends they have made in Samoa but that he is determined that on his return to Japan he will resume playing and watching rugby with his Samoan friends who are living in Japan.