Category: Opinions Written by News Desk
By David Majur Awuou
This piece is a critical analysis of systematic contributions the government of Japan has delivered to South Sudan without any string attachments as usually witnessed with other international partners in South Sudan.
Sometimes early this year, the Defence Minister of Japan Gen Nakatani visited South Sudan for the first time to bolster bilateral relationships with his South Sudanese counterpart, Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk.
His first quote was the need to support South Sudan efforts to bring peace as well as Japan’s interest to establish diplomatic relations with South Sudan and other strategic collaborations and partnerships.
So far, South Sudan has no embassy in Japan despite the establishment of a Diplomatic mission at the Ambassadorial level by Japan in the Country, this is tantamount to an international and diplomatic disconnect between the two allies since coordination is weak as there is no Diplomat from South Sudan in Tokyo!.
By all account, Japan is an overwhelming and potential global economic power aided by its ever growing technology in all fields such as Motors, manufacturing, chemical industries, education, and equipments to mention just a few. Can’t this be a huge opportunity for us as South Sudanese to exploit from Japan?
The government of Japan also has a military contingent in South Sudan under the UN mandate helping the people in not only keeping peace but also building roads and bridges, practically within Juba as well as the Juba-Bor road.
Through its official agency, JICA or Japanese International cooperation Agency is supporting the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, trying to modernize the national broadcaster or SSTV and Radio which is challenged by weak professional foundation and quack journalism!
The question here remains as to what is preventing South Sudan from benefiting from Japan’s gains and gifts as one of the world’s super power?
Can’t government of South Sudan open up diplomatic Mission or Embassy to facilitate development, cultural, technological, economic, agricultural, trade and human relations exchanges with the Japanese?
Even though many countries look at how best to balance their strategic national interests first by interfering in the affairs of sovereign states against will, Japan is not interfering with South Sudanese internal affairs than other world’s powers do of which experiences are real.
Japan recently announced one million dollars as a grant to WFP’s resilience-straitening work in South Sudan. The contribution has helped to reduce looming starvation in a country which does not produce sufficient food on its own to feed itself.
The government of Japan also granted 380,000 dollars for peacemaking training in South Sudan and more assistance in support in many areas of life.
The list is long here to outline the contributions of the Japanese government to the people of South Sudan; however the people of this country want to see permanent international relations with opening up embassies in both countries to facilitate this beautiful friendship and ultimately attract development for the benefit of both.
For instance, JICA is cooperating with many Ministries in the country to built capacity for the people of South Sudan, most of who even went to as far as Japan on training programs; this is a great appreciation to Japanese implementing agency -JICA.
The government of South Sudan and her citizens deeply commend the Japanese people and government for the Freedom Bridge construction project which is ongoing following a ground-breaking ceremony in March 2015 attended by President Kiir himself.
A bridge that connects Juba with the eastern bank of the river is a linchpin of people's life; the one currently in use, which is the only bridge over the Nile here, was built in 1974 and has a small loading capacity, thereby stunting South Sudan's development potential.
The completion of the construction of this great bridge is expected in 2017; already 100 South Sudanese workers participated in its construction and acquire technical expertise daily.
“Japan is committed to a long-term commitment in developing human resources; Japan will continue to invest in South Sudan's infrastructure development”. The Ambassador told journalists.
While appreciating Japan’s commitments to development of Africa, JICA's assistance programs lies in basic livelihood improvement by providing healthcare, education, and vocational training.
The government of Japan wants to see a vibrant mass media in the country to consolidate national unity and democracy through media development. This is seeing an effort to upgrade the national broadcaster and other technical and broadcast installations which South Sudanese doesn’t qualify to do.
JICA's assistance to the state-owned media organization by training journalists to fortify their capabilities in broadcasting and programming as well as transitioning from a state-owned broadcaster to a public broadcasting corporation was significant.
In order to substantiate the level of international assistance and development received from Japan, the government of South Sudan and particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must do more to expedite the establishment of the South Sudan Embassy in Japan to help in coordinating cooperation programs at diplomatic and strategic levels between the two countries.
Just last week, the Public lecture was organized in Juba to update potential students on the possibility of getting scholarships for doing Masters in Japan, this is a commendable opportunity which is rarely accorded to students in South Sudan by different international actors in the country.
However, for South Sudanese to continue enjoying the unconditional development and unconditional donations from Japan, it is equally a responsibility of the government to see to it that the country has a diplomatic mission in Tokyo –Japan as a matter of priority.
Most countries that South Sudan has Embassies have little to offer in terms of development assistance and technical cooperation which South Sudanese get from Japanese government.
The bottom line in an effort to establish helpful friends in Africa and worldwide, South Sudan must take into consideration its “objective selectivity” when it comes to choosing a country for diplomatic and international relations, strategically to benefit from its skill and strength.
Ultimately, we want to see that the government dispatches an Ambassador to Japan sooner than later to consolidate this important bilateral relations and cement international understanding for the common good of the citizens.