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Reception for the 29th Ship of the World Youth Leaders Programme

February 17, 2017       MV Nippon Maru, Kings Wharf, Suva

The Minister for Youth and Sports, Honourable Laisenia Tuitubou;
The Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, Honourable Iliesa Delana;
Honourable Ministers and Assistant Ministers;
The Ambassador of Japan, Your Excellency Takuji Hanatani;
Representative of the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan;
Your Excellencies, Heads of Missions
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Our hosts this evening, Master of the MV Nippon Maru, Mr Satoshi Ninomiya, and your entire crew;
Permanent Secretaries;
Participants of the 29th Ship of the World Youth Leaders Programme;
Members of the Media;
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaskar, Assalamu-Alaikum, Noa’ia ‘e Mauri and a very Good Evening to you all.  It would be remiss if I did not say Konbanwa too, particularly that we are standing on Japanese territory!

I am delighted to be here and be part of this inspiring event.

Earlier this afternoon, the Honourable Prime Minister Rear-Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama, welcomed you to our shores on behalf of the Government of Fiji.

This is a typically Fijian gesture showing you all that Fiji and her people welcome you. You are most welcome to stay, enjoy our warm hospitality and bask in our good weather – hopefully there will be some sunshine as the weather at this time of the year can be unpredictable at times.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the Government of Japan for providing this opportunity for the 11 Fijian youths who are part of this programme and the 200 more from 10 other countries around the world.

The MV Nippon Maru has indeed been a kaleidoscope over the past 20 days or so. It has been your home away from home and indeed, you have bonded and made friendships that will undoubtedly, last a lifetime.

Fiji definitely has a lot to learn from the countries involved in this initiative and perhaps more importantly, be able to contribute positively towards the continued success of this World Leaders Programme.

We are delighted that Fiji has been chosen to be one of your learning and exchange destinations.

I have no doubt that participating youths on board the MV Nippon Maru have learnt a lot during your short stint in Japan and New Zealand.

It is now our turn and opportunity to showcase our unique culture, tradition and way of life while you are here.

I certainly believe that the Ship of the World Youth Leaders Programme has and will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of many young people in the world. It has broadened your knowledge of each other’s countries and also empowers you to contribute to your societies in a positive way.

Indeed, in Fiji, we have a very active Alumnae Association, which is in itself, an indication of the impact of the programme.

At the end of your stay with us, I hope you will have a deeper understanding of the Fijian culture, our people and our challenges. You can help us, through your interaction with members of the Fijian delegation, to identify aspects that we need to consider as we endeavour to involve and fully utilise the potential of our youths in progressing our beloved country towards a sustainable and inclusive society, united in our diversity. 

I hope you will also appreciate and better understand the challenges we face in climate change, particularly as we move towards the anniversary of Tropical Cyclone Winston, on 20 February.

Fiji has taken on the daunting challenge of leading the world to address climate change through our presidency of COP 23.

I sincerely hope that you will also appreciate our status as one of the “Vulnerable 20 nations”  to climate change and that you will help persuade your national leaders and your fellow countrymen and women that as responsible global citizens, each person has an obligation and contribution to make towards mitigating the harmful impact of climate change.

Our collective efforts could help change the stance of those who see climate change from a different perspective. 

I have every confidence that your experiences here will add strength to your commitment to fight the good fight with us, shoulder to shoulder, in the best interests of the future you will inherit, because you are our leaders of tomorrow.

And, at the end of your brief stopover, I hope that your understanding of Fiji will be broadened and you will find ways to strengthen the spirit of international cooperation between our countries and identify applicable practical skills that will contribute effectively to your future.

I know that you will really appreciate and treasure the knowledge you will acquire from your trip and that you will gladly share such invaluable knowledge and experiences when you return to your homes.

On a lighter note, Fijians are known for our genuine friendliness and carefree hospitality, I must warn you and seek your understanding, as you will be constantly interrupted for a bula handshake during your stay as you travel to remote villages for cultural exchange programmes.

That is the Fijian spirit and Fijians love to entertain and welcome visitors to our shores. I also want to assure you that your Fijian hosts are ready to receive you and welcome you into our villages and institutions. Please do feel at home and enjoy the hospitality.

At this juncture, I would like particularly to thank and pay tribute to the Japanese Government, through Your Excellency the Ambassador, for this innovative initiative. 

I also thank the Governments of the participating nations for supporting their respective delegations. 

Thank you also to the Captain and crew of the MV Nippon Maru for taking care of this talented group of our future leaders.

Once again, please treat Suva as a home away from home while you are here. Enjoy your stay and I wish you an enjoyable weekend ahead of you.

Vinaka vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Fai’eksia, Thank you and Arigato-gozaimashita and God bless!