My first encounter with Nigeria – JAPANESE ENVOY

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My name is MATSUNAGA Kazuyoshi, the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I arrived in Nigeria on 15th May 2021 to take up this position.

I was 5-year-old when, for the first time in my life, I met a non-Japanese. Coincidentally, that person was a Nigerian. After that, I learned that there are different races, languages, and cultures in the world, and I enjoyed the differences and felt that I wanted to know more about them, which led me to my career as a diplomat. In this regard, it is my pleasure and honour to serve as the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria.

【Urgent issue: Cooperation in the medical and health sector including the fight against COVID-19】
Nigerians have also been highly affected by restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and face various inconveniences. Foremost,
I would 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.
Last April, a Grant Aid project, funded by the Government of Japan, was launched to increase oxygen supply and expand vaccine storage capacity through an international organization. Japan will continue to support the efforts of the Nigerian people to strengthen the medical and health sectors.

【Expanding relationship into new fields】
The year 2020 was the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Nigeria diplomatic relations. In Japan, 60 years is an important stage. It completes a circle of life and marks a new beginning, a re-birth. It can thus be expected that the relationship between Japan and Nigeria will expand into new fields.
I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan as an IT expert.
Therefore, I am interested in strengthening diplomatic activities utilizing IT, in pursuing economic growth and in solving social problems through technological innovation.
Even the COVID-19 will have an end, and there is a bright light at the end of the long tunnel. When something is particularly difficult, it provides an opportunity to create innovations. As a member of the Japanese government that promotes Digital Transformation (DX) as a pillar of its growth strategy, I am focusing on Nigeria, which has the potential to grow dramatically through leapfrog-type development by actively adopting the latest technology.

【Building a relationship through improvements, safety, security, trust and confidence】
“Kaizen”, which is a Japanese approach to improving productivity and services bottom-up, is also spreading in Africa. Kaizen enables providing quality products and services and giving customers Anzen (Safety) and Anshin (Security). The long-term and continuous efforts of companies that have the interest of its customers at heart will further create Shinyou (trust) and Shinrai (confidence), and lead to strengthening the relationship between the company and the customer. The good relationship between countries is also based on building a good bottom-up relationship in which individuals are considerate towards one another.

【Realization of expanding and deepening Japan-Nigeria relations in various fields by deepening people-to-people exchanges】
Currently there are 16 players in the Japanese professional soccer league J-League who are from Nigeria or whose either parent is Nigerian, making Nigeria the most-represented African country in Japanese football. Nigeria is thus remarkably familiar to Japanese football fans.
However, it is unfortunate that it is difficult for individuals to freely move between the two countries because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Moreover Japan and Nigeria are physically far apart.
Under these circumstances, DX facilitates 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.
I believe that when the Corona virus infection eventually settles down and we travel freely, meeting in person will further deepen mutual understanding and the relationship between Japan and Nigeria will diversify and deepen.

I will actively communicate the Embassy’s activities through its website and Facebook. Please continue to follow us.

MATSUNAGA Kazuyoshi
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan
to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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