USD25.8 COVID-19 assistance from Japan to SI

Outgoing Japanese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, HE. Shigeru Toyama

The Government of Japan has announced a 25.8 million US dollars in COVID 19 emergency assistance to the Government of Solomon Islands.

Outgoing Japanese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, His Excellency Mr. Shigeru Toyama revealed during his final courtesy call to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare Tuesday this week.  

“My government has not yet pledged any emergency assistance against Coronavirus, but responding to your efforts against the pandemic, we are now progressing the following assistances with responsible ministries,” His Excellency Toyama reassured Prime Minister Sogavare.

He announced a health sector equipment support grant of 300 million Japanese Yen (approximately 2.8 million USD) to support our COVID-19 Prevention and Response).

He also announced a USD$23 million Emergency Financial Assistance fund through Concessional Program Loan to assist with the COVID-19 Recovery process. Ambassador Toyama emphasized that this is the first time Japan has entered into this type of funding arrangement with us, adding that it is very, very concessional with near 0.001% interest rate and a 10-year grace period should the government be keen to engage on this funding arrangement.

Ambassador Toyama praised the government’s efforts and measures taken to keep COVID-19 out of the country.

“Your Government continues to succeed in zero infection”, he told Prime Minister Sogavare. 

Ambassador Toyama also expressed his government’s commitment to continue supporting the development of Solomon Islands into the future, sighting the upcoming International Airport Upgrade and the completion of the Kukum Highway as the next components of Japan’s on-going support to the people of Solomon Islands.

Mr. Toyama thanked the government for its support to Japan’s long-standing mission to collect and repatriate the remains of fallen Japanese soldiers.

Ambassador Toyama especially thanked the Solomon Islands Government for its continued support at the international fora including at the United Nations and its specialized Institutions such as the World Health Organization.

Ambassador Toyama also invited Prime Minister Sogavare to attend the PALM 9 – which is the 9th Pacific Leaders Meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister next year, at a date yet to be decided. “I eagerly ask you to attend this meeting,” he said.

Responding, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare thanked His Excellency Ambassador Toyama for calling in before leaving Solomon Islands.  

“My Government looks forward to receiving your successor, said the Prime Minister.  

Prime Minister Sogavare thanked Ambassador Toyama for acknowledging Solomon Islands’ cooperation at the United Nations and international forums.

“Be assured, Solomon Islands will continue to support Japan in issues of common interest in international forums”.

Solomon Islands is happy to have been part of the Japanese effort to recover the remains of loved ones to be repatriated to Japan for their final rest, he said.

He says, in terms of Major Infrastructure development, the Solomon Islands could not have gone this far without Japan’s assistance.

The Honiara Airport Project, Kukum II Project are examples of the many development partnership projects that my people have benefited directly from the Government and people of Japan. 

“We want to strengthen the relationship further”, the Prime Minister Sogavare emphasized.

Prime Minister Sogavare thanked Ambassador Toyama for Japan’s contribution to the country’s COVID-19 Preparedness, Response, and Recovery plan through the health sector equipment grant support and the new emergency concessional financing assistance program.

The Prime Minister also indicated that the Oversight Committee had recommended the easing of restrictions to allow essential TAs to enter the country on critical government projects, implying that Japanese TAs for the International Airport construction could soon be able to enter the country

“We should see a repatriation flight today [Tuesday 26 May 2020] where experts on national projects including those from South Korea for the Tina Hydro project are entering the country” he said. ‘We would welcome Japanese TAs for the Airport construction projects soon’, he said

On the Japanese Government’s invitation to PALM 9, Prime Minister Sogavare said, “I will make every effort to attend PALM 9 in Japan. Thank you for the invite”.  

Japan’s new Representative to the Solomon Islands, Ambassador Morimoto is now preparing for his departure from Japan and will assume his duty mid next month. Japan and Solomon Islands have historical connections dating back to the Second World War.

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