By Rayon Lakingu – EMTV News, Port Moresby
First Lady Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, visited the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) Military Band at Murray Barracks on Saturday (17 November, 2018).
The band was trained and equipped with Japanese Assistance for the past three years, through the JICA ODA grant fund.
The visit by the First Lady signifies the relationship the PNGDF has with Japan.
The Papua New Guinea Defense Force Military Band consists of 41 Band members including 8 female members with a conductor.
All members of the band are young enthusiastic soldiers and officers.
In previous years, the PNGDF Military Band lacked proper equipment and training.
Japan stepped in providing equipment and proper training.
The training was under Colonel, Katsuo Mizushina, a Japanese expert under the JICA program; the band members were all beginners but he trained them to be better performers.
Colonel Mizushina told EMTV News that it was hard for him in the beginning as most of them were beginners.
At the event, the military band played some music to entertain the first lady and the other delegates.
Also accompanying the first lady was the wife of Japan’s Ambassador to PNG and PNGDF Chief of Staff Captain, Philip Olewara.
JICA’s expert, Colonel Mizushina, was satisfied that the band has learnt a lot from him, and has become one of the best military band after performing at various ceremonies.
The first lady was presented with a bilum as a token of appreciation for the support they received from Japan.
Meanwhile, the Japanese embassy provided the band with new musical instruments.
The band was also presented with goods from a high school in Japan.
The PNGDF is now proud of its transformed military band, and says they are ready to perform at any occasion.