The Japanese government is establishing an embassy in Apia with the view of bolstering its diplomatic relationship with Samoa.
Expected to open at the end of March, the embassy will be located at the Samoa National Provident Fund (SNPF) Plaza on Beach Road.
It will offer full diplomatic services some of which had not been readily available to Samoans up to now. The man who is in charge of the project is “Counsellor” Kazumasa Shibuta, the Japanese government’s troublingshooting “ambassador.”
In an interview last week, Mr Shibuta reveals that he has been setting up embassies for his government all over the world. He says he has worked in some of the world’s “trouble spots” such as Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Islamabad, Pakistan and in the Pacific, East Timor.
In Tanzania he also worked as a volunteer photographer for the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA.) But it is setting up embassies that has taken up most of Mr Shibuta’s time.
In Apia, he has set up his country’s temporary embassy at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in anticipation of the arrival Japan’s ambassador to New Zealand, Mr Masaki Nogoya.
Mr Nogoya, who is based in Wellington, is planning to visit on 27 January to present his credentials to Samoa’s Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi. The presentation ceremony itself will be held on 29 January. But Mr Shibuta has other interests in Samoa other than in his country’s embassy that he is here to set up. He says he is fascinated with the idea that Samoans are known to have been among the most daring navigators in ancient times.
“Your navigation history saying your ancestors arrived some 3000 years ago should be respected,” he explains. Besides, he is finding the Samoan way of life unique especially in the way its people are managing to hold on to their “matai system (which is) very fascinating.” Mr Shibuta says it is Samoa’s “ability to assimilate in the modern world while preserving your traditions and culture that is very appealing.” He is in Apia with his wife Kyoko.
There is no doubt about the changing character of the country’s retail sector. It is getting increasingly hard to find a shop that has local staff working behind the counters.
Today is International Women’s Day, a day marking efforts towards improving the status and lives of women worldwide, including here in Samoa.
The last week or so has seen some quite astonishing political action. There have been threats by ruling party members to leave and form their own party.
The government’s “proposal” to ban traditional gift giving in a bid to curb bribery and corruption during the elections is a step in the right direction (see story of the Samoa Observer on Monday).