By Samantha Semoso – EM TV Online
Japan will upgrade its office in Honiara to Embassy level.
This was affirmed by Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, over the weekend when he held bilateral talks with Solomon Island Deputy Prime Minister, Douglas Ete, who attended on behalf of Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, at the conclusion of the seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM).
“This decision was made in recognition of the growing diplomatic relation Japan has with Solomon Islands.”
Abe added that, “Japan highly values its relations with Solomon Islands so in recognition of that, we have decided to open an embassy in the Solomon Islands.”
Japans diplomatic office in Honiara currently operates under the Japanese Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
The head of the office is often referred to as the Charge d’ Affaires.
The upgrading of the office to embassy level means the head of the office will now be referred to as the Ambassador, and the number of Japanese diplomats serving in the office is expected to increase.
Abe also told Ete of his government’s approval of $3.2 billion yen (around SBD$201 million) for the upgrading of the Kukum Highway.
The agreement was signed in Honiara, 26 May, by officials of both governments.
Under the project, the three kilometre road from the City Council to the Ministry of Fisheries at Kukum will be upgraded.
The City Council roundabout will also be redesigned and upgrade from the existing two lane to three lane while the one-lane Mataniko Bridge will also be built and upgraded to two lanes, while the two lane bridge will be increased to four.
The Honiara Market bus stops will also be upgraded, with construction of the two-lane bus bays.
The project will also see the upgrading and improvement of the Vura junction to cater for the increasing heavy traffic in the area. This huge project is expected to alleviate the worsening traffic congestion problem in Honiara.
Abe assured Ete that Japan will continue to assist in the sustainable development of Solomon Islands.
Meanwhile, Ete thanked the Japanese government and the people for the many development projects they’ve funded in the country.
He said Japan’s assistance to Solomon Islands is no small measure but something Solomon Islanders will always value and cherish as the two countries continue to develop their diplomatic relationship.
Ete assured Abe the country looks forward to working closely with Japan in the many years to come.