Monday, September 20, 2021

Japan will help Nigeria tackle COVID-19 challenges — Ambassador

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The new Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, says his country will assist in tackling the COVID-19 challenges in Nigeria.

Kazuyoshi, who arrived in Nigeria on May 15, 2021, disclosed this to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.

The envoy said that the Embassy would cooperate with Federal Government in the health sector, including the fight against COVID-19.

He said that year 2020 marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Nigeria diplomatic relations; in spite of many great accomplishments to date.

He expressed confidence that the relations between the two countries could only get stronger and would expand into new fields.

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The ambassador said “Nigerians have also been highly affected by restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and face various inconveniences.

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“Foremost, I will like to express my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and to extend my heartfelt sympathies to all the affected people.

“One of my priorities would therefore be to address the various challenges in the medical and health sectors, including the response to COVID-19, through the cooperation between Japan and Nigeria.’’

He recalled that a grant aid project, funded by the Government of Japan was launched in April 2021 to increase oxygen supply and expand vaccine storage capacity through an international organisation.

He added that Japan would continue to support the efforts of the Nigerian people to strengthen the medical and health sectors.

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According to him, as a member of the Japanese Government that promotes digital transformation as a pillar of its growth strategy, Nigeria has the potential to grow dramatically through leapfrog-type development by actively adopting the latest technology.

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“I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan as an IT Expert. Therefore, I am interested in strengthening diplomatic activities using IT in pursuing economic growth and in solving social problems through technological innovations.

“Under these circumstances, DX (digital transformation) can facilitate people-to-people ties by bridging psychological distances.

“It promotes virtual exchanges and deepens mutual understanding not only in political and business fields, but also in fields such as sports, culture, medical care and education,’’ he explained.

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He, however, narrated his first encounter with a Nigerian at age five.

According to him, my special interest in Nigeria stems from recalling my first non-Japanese person that I had contact with as a five-year-old was a Nigerian.

“They were about 16 players in the Japanese football league, the Japanese League, who were from Nigeria or whose either parent was Nigerian, making Nigeria the most-represented African country in Japanese football.

“Nigeria is thus remarkably familiar to Japanese football fans,” he added.

NAN

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