Foreign Ministry, Japanese Embassy Issue Joint Press Release

Foreign Minister Olubanke King Akerele
Foreign Minister Olubanke King Akerele
Photo Credit: IT/Public Affairs Bureau

The official handing over of rice from the Government of Japan to the Government of Liberia was held at the Freeport of Monrovia on 17 July 209. Her Excellency Mrs. Olubanke King-Akerele, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Honourable Miata Beysolow, Minister of Commence and Industry; Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia, Keiichi KATAKAMI and Hon. Nyah Mantein, Managing Director, LPMC and other officials of the Liberian Government were present.

The quantity of rice received was 8,612 MTs, while the expected minimum amount for the Counterpart Fund is around US$4.6 million.
The Government of Japan last year, in response to the urgent request from the Government of Liberia, has decided to extend grant aid in amount of 780 ( seven hundred and eighty) million yen as food aid (KR) for Liberia. And this happens to be the first opportunity between the two governments to Exchange Notes in any bilateral grant aid.

The Exchange of Notes was signed last year in Accra, between Her Excellency Olubanke King-Akerele, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia and H. E. Masamichi Ishikawa, Ambassador-then of Japan to Liberia. This rice has arrived at the Freeport last week.   Japan announced the resumption of bilateral aid to Liberia in early 2007 based on the Policy dialogue held between two governments. Since then, a number of cooperation, including technical cooperation, has already begun. Two Governments also has signed the Exchange of Notes concerning the rescheduling of the debts in this January.

Ambassador KATAKAMI emphasized that the important things in this Food Aid was, not only that the rice are purchased and brought by this grant, but also that “the Counterpart Fund”, the system of selling rice and of the reliable management of the proceed of the sale is to be established, in order to utilize those proceed for further development purposes in Liberia.

He strongly hoped that the Government of Liberia would utilize this opportunity not only to effectively distribute rice, but also to help efforts to make more sustainable agriculture and to enhance food security, while demonstrating its accountability and transparency in the management of the Counterpart fund.

The bilateral ties subsisting between Liberia and Japan are longstanding and has been characterized, over the years, by mutual respect, cordiality and an abiding commitment to the ideals and principles of the United Nations aimed at promoting international peace and security through cooperation with all peace loving people of the world.

It is exceptional to note that even during the period of our civil crisis, spanning more then 14 years, the Government of Japan played a leading role in providing multilateral assistance for humanitarian interventions in Liberia.

In fulfillment of an effort by Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the formal Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency, Shinzo Abe, when the two leaders agreed to further strengthen Japan- Liberia relationship in March 2007, and in response to President Sirleaf’s  request during an official meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda at the TICAD IV held in May 2008 in Yokohama, the Government of  Japan is again  turning over to the Government of Liberia, 8,534.38 Metric tons of Japanese Rice for development purpose in Liberia.

We consider this initiative by Japan as a laudable effort in the realization of our Poverty Reduction Strategy. In this regard, we wish to highlight the unique future of this grant which obligates the establishment of a Counterpart Fund from proceeds of the sale of the rice. The said fund will facilitate the financing of development activities which, in return, will contribute to the achievement of the PRS objectives.
We are very pleased that we can continue to count on Japan as one of Liberia’s partners in helping us to help ourselves recover from our terrible past. As a manifestation of how much Liberia cherishes its relations with Japan, Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appointed a Resident Ambassador to Japan and we hope that this can be reciprocated by the Government of Japan as in the past.

Meanwhile, Japan hosted TICAD IV (the fourth Tokyo International conference on African Development) in Yokohama, Japan in May 2008. TICAD IV adopted the Plan of Action to provide a road map for the support of African growth and development. The Government of Japan, at the center of the TICAD Process has taken initiative to show its commitment by announcing doubling ODA to Africa by 2012.