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Last Update : Friday, Mar 11, 2016

JapanGov Weekly

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Friday, Mar 11, 2016]

Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Fifth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

In the gracious presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, it is with the deepest respect that I, representing the Government of Japan, express my condolences on the occasion of the Memorial Ceremony marking the Fifth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Already, five years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, which claimed many precious lives and completely changed the lives of so many more people.

When I think of the despair of those who lost beloved members of their families and friends in the disaster, I am overwhelmed even now with deep sorrow. It is with my deepest sympathy that I reiterate my sincerest condolences. I would also like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to all those who have been affected by the disaster.

Many people are still leading uncomfortable lives in the affected areas. There are many who cannot return to their beloved homes because of the accident at the nuclear power plant. Every time I visit the affected areas, I fully sense that “the disaster is continuing.” And yet, step by step, the reconstruction is making steady progress. Revitalization of the livelihoods of the residents is similarly gathering pace and becoming fully fledged alongside the construction of new housing.

By being aware of the circumstances of each and every one of the affected individuals, we commit ourselves to such tasks as providing care for their minds and bodies, forming new local communities and supporting industrial development of the affected areas, so that reconstruction leads to the attractive revitalization of the region.

Consequently, with the determination to never allow the valuable lessons learned from the disaster to erode, we will ceaselessly review disaster-prevention measures by constantly integrating the latest wisdom and knowledge. Once again, I would like to make a firm pledge here that the government will exert its unified efforts to build a strong and resilient nation that is resistant to disasters.

We have reached today supported by the tremendous efforts of local people and numerous related parties. Warm support and assistance have poured in from every corner of Japan, and also from countries and regions around the world, many of whose representatives are present here today. I would like once again to express our sincere gratitude as well as our respect.

Our nation will continue to convey to the world the lessons of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the state of the reconstruction of the affected areas, while also further strengthening our international contributions in the field of disaster prevention so that our nation’s knowledge and technologies will become instrumental in future disasters.

In the past, our nation suffered countless disasters that could be described as national crises, but overcame them each time with determination and hope. I vow once again that we will follow hand in hand in the footsteps of our forefathers and continue to move forward.

In concluding, I would like to offer my heartfelt prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of those who lost their lives and I pray for the peace and tranquility of their bereaved family members.

March 11, 2016
Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Tuesday, Mar 1, 2016]

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreements with the Arab Republic of Egypt: Contributing to economic development through infrastructure support in the power and transportation fields

On February 29, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed loan agreements with the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to provide loans of up to a total of 54.176 billion yen for assistance for three projects.

Since the political turmoil in 2011, tourism and manufacturing—Egypt’s most important industries—have stagnated and overseas investment has dropped, adversely affecting the country’s economy. Inclusive and sustainable growth is needed to address the declining living environment and high rate of youth unemployment, which are underlying causes of political instability in the country. As a result of reforms and other measures promoted by the current administration, the level of public and private investment has increased and the economy has recovered from a growth rate of 2.2 percent in fiscal year 2013–14 to 4.2 percent in fiscal year 2014–15, which is expected to remain at least at four percent. To support inclusive and sustainable growth in Egypt, JICA will employ Japanese technology to create high-quality infrastructure as a base for a wide range of socioeconomic activity.

The features of the Japanese ODA loans are outlined below.

(1) Increasing the power supply while supporting efficiency and reliability

The electricity peak demand in Egypt has been growing at an annual rate of 6 percent since 2004, which is higher than the annual economic growth rate of 4.4 percent, and at this rate the electricity peak demand will outstrip the capacity of the currently installed power equipment by fiscal year 2017–18. To address this projected electricity shortage, the installed capacity of electricity generation must be increased while promoting the use of renewable energy. In addition, the energy efficiency must be improved by improving the transmission and distribution facilities.

Targeting the service areas of the Electricity Distribution Companies of Alexandria, North Cairo and North Delta, the Electricity Distribution System Improvement Project will install and upgrade electricity distribution facilities with technologies such as power distribution management systems and smart meters. These measures will reduce the electricity distribution loss and increase the efficiency and reliability of the electricity supply.

As a project qualifying for the Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP), the Hurghada Photovoltaic Power Plant Project will construct a large-scale solar power plant and install storage battery systems in the Hurghada region. This will increase the electricity supply while preventing instabilities in the transmission grid due to the increased use of renewable energy.

JICA will also contribute to mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gases through these two projects, which will reduce electricity distribution loss and promote the use of renewable energy.

(2) Supporting sustainable economic growth and creating employment with air transportation infrastructure

Borg El Arab International Airport is located near Alexandria, a city on the Mediterranean coast with the second largest population in Egypt, and went into full operation with completion of the first passenger terminal in 2010 (1). As excessive demand at the airport has resulted in a decline in the service level and operation restrictions, strengthening the capacity to handle travelers is an urgent issue.

By constructing a new passenger terminal, and expanding and improving incidental facilities, the Borg El Arab International Airport Extension Project will meet the demand for airport transportation at a level that supports the tourism industry and overseas workers in Egypt which are major sources of foreign currency for Egypt. It is expected that the project will increase the convenience and safety of air transportation, and stimulate the Nile Delta region where the airport is located.

As Japanese environmentally friendly advanced technologies are planned for utilization, STEP conditions will be applied to this project. The project will also alleviate climate change by adopting the Eco-Airport concept to reduce the environmental load.

1: The new passenger and cargo terminals, the administration building and taxiway were built with a Japanese ODA loan from JICA. The Loan Agreement (L/A) was signed in 2005, construction was completed in September 2010, and service began in December 2010. Airport management training at Narita Airport has been provided for 140 airport employees.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Monday, Mar 7, 2016]

Signing of Loan Agreement with Morocco: Contributing to economic growth and social stability by promoting inclusive agriculture

On March 4, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement with the Government of Morocco in Rabat, the capital city, to provide up to 16.347 billion yen for the Green Morocco Plan Support Program.

In Morocco, the agriculture sector is vital to its economy, accounting for 13 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 11 percent of exports, and employing one quarter of the working population (approximately three million people). Since most family households in the sector are small-scale farmers dependent on rainwater for water, unstable weather such as a drought can easily lower the yearly production by half, significantly affecting the GDP growth rate as well. Moreover, there is a huge income disparity in Morocco between people in rural and urban areas, and three out of four people in poverty live in rural agricultural villages. Under these circumstances, promoting inclusive agriculture development while creating employing in rural agricultural villages is a priority.

In order to address these challenges, the Government of Morocco has been implementing the “Green Morocco Plan” which has a target year of 2020. Its two policy objectives are: (I) Developing high value-added and highly productive agriculture through agricultural modernization, and (II) Integrating small-scale farming households in the existing economic systems.

In order to promote this second policy objective, JICA will provide a policy-based program loan in the form of general budget support. The ODA loan will be disbursed when the policy actions related to “sustainable growth in the agricultural sector” and “value chain strengthening and inclusive development for the agricultural sector”, of the Government of Morocco, are confirmed as achieved. By providing support for those actions, JICA aims to facilitate inclusive agriculture development that encourages youth, women and small-scale farmers to participate in the economy, so as to ensure sustainable economic growth and social stability in Morocco. This program is cofinanced by the African Development Bank, based on the Accelerated Co-Financing Scheme for Africa.

JICA has provided other support to the agricultural sector in Morocco, such as ODA loans for the National Agricultural Credit Project and the Abda-Doukkala Upper Scheme Irrigation Project, grant aid, and technical cooperation projects, and has also dispatched volunteers to Morocco. Currently, a technical cooperation project, the Project for Improvement of Irrigation System at the Abda Doukkala Irrigated Area, is being implemented to support the extension of the drip irrigation method. This program’s policy actions include approval of the “Manual for Reducing Water Consumption and Capacity Strengthening for Agricultural Water Use Cooperatives,” which is as an outcome of the project. As such, JICA will strategically utilize multiple types of assistance to promote agricultural sector reform in Morocco.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Tuesday, Mar 8, 2016]

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreement with Georgia: Strengthening competitiveness as a regional logistics hub by improving an international corridor

On March 7, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement with Georgia in Tbilisi, the capital city, to provide a Japanese ODA loan of up to a total of 4.41 billion yen for the East-West Highway Improvement Project (II). A Japanese ODA loan (signed in December 2009 for 17.722 billion yen) was provided for the first phase of this project, and this loan will be used for the second phase.

This project will construct and improve the road and bridges between Zestafoni and Samtredia on the East-West Highway, which is a vital logistics network in Georgia connecting the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and by extension, Europe and Asia, thereby strengthening the transportation capacity of Georgia and contributing to regional economic development.

In recent years, Georgia has promoted democratization and market economy reforms to proactively encourage foreign investment. According to an evaluation by the World Bank, Georgia has been a foremost country in implementing business environment improvements over the past 12 years, and interest is growing in the country as a target of private sector investment. Georgia is located at the geopolitically critical intersection of Europe, Asia, Russia, and the Middle East, and one of the country's priority challenges is to use its geopolitical predominance to enhance competitiveness as a logistics hub in the Caucasus region.

As roads carry more than 40 percent of the freight transportation and 90 percent of the passenger transportation in Georgia, the road infrastructure serves as a lifeline for the nation’s economy. The East-West Highway is an international corridor connecting the Azerbaijan border to the coast of the Black Sea; and the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and others have provided assistance to improve adjacent sections of the highway as the highest priority for Georgia. This project is expected to contribute to economic development in Georgia as well as the entire region by constructing and improving the East-West Highway, which plays an important role for the transportation of people and goods in the Caucasus region.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Tuesday, Mar 8, 2016]

Signing of Grant Agreement with Rwanda: Improving and expanding electric power substation facilities and the distribution network to stabilize the power supply to Kigali with higher efficiency

On March 8, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement with the Government of the Republic of Rwanda to provide grant aid of up to 2.219 billion yen for the Project for Improvement of Substations and Distribution Network (Phase 2).

The project will construct and expand the electric power substations and associated power transmission and distribution facilities in Kigali, the capital city, to stabilize the power supply with higher efficiency.

With the economy growing at a rapid annual rate of approximately eight percent in recent years, Rwanda is unable to keep up with the demand for power which is growing more than 10 percent each year. The amount of power consumed in Kigali accounts for approximately 64 percent of the country’s total power consumption, but investment in the power distribution network has fallen short of what is needed for the power consumption. If that investment is not boosted to a suitable level, major substations in Kigali could be overloaded, and there are concerns that an unstable supply of power could become a major impediment to economic activities and people’s daily lives.

By constructing and expanding the electric power substations and power distribution network, this project will avoid the risk of a large-scale power outage, enable a stable supply of power, reduce power loss, and improve the electrification rate in Kigali, having a positive impact not only on the economy but also on related activities in education, welfare and health care.