[10th April 2015]

THE PRESIDENT MEETS KENYANS IN JAPAN

During His Excellency the president's recent official visit to Japan he graciously took time to meet the Kenyan community in Japan on 15th March, 2015. The meeting which was held at Hotel Okura in Tokyo was not only well attended but also historic being the first such meeting between Kenyans in Japan and their President in the last two decades. During the meeting His Excellency was accompanied by the Cabinet secretaries of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, The National Treasury, and Transport and Infrastructure, among other prominent Kenyans who attended the meeting.

(His Excellency the President of Kenya (center) interacts with Kenyans accompanied by the Cabinet Secretaries of Foreign Affairs & International Trade Amb. (Dr.) Amina Mohammed, The National Treasury Mr. Henry Rotich, and Transport and Infrastructure Eng. Michael Kamau, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Japan Amb. S.K. Maina)


(The KIJA Chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Mutisya welcoming His Excellency the President and his Delegation)


(H.E. the Kenyan Ambassador giving his welcome remarks)


(The Hon. Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs & International Trade addressing the Kenya Diaspora)

His Excellency the president told the meeting that he had visited Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Prime Minister in order to attend the 3rd United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction which took place in Sendai scheduled from 14th to 18th March 2015.  He also said that he had taken the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister and review the very warm and cordial relations between Kenya and Japan. He particularly noted that Kenya and Japan have had a long and enduring friendship and that Japan is a major development partner for Kenya. He told the meeting that there was need to deepen this relationship especially by deepening people to people interactions to boost trade and foster better even relations between our two countries. During the meeting, His Excellency the president also engaged the Kenyan nationals living in Japan on the following important issues:

A Professional Databank
His Excellency the president noted KIJA’s request for the GOK to establish a profession databank for the Diaspora so that the Government can easily tap into existing expertise and professional competence amongst Kenyans in the Diaspora for National Development. The President promised that the Government will soon embark on establishing such a profession databank to capture various expertise, skills and qualifications held by Kenyans living abroad. The databank could be used to offer opportunities to them to be considered for government contracts to incorporate them in the National development agenda.  

This is in recognition of their expertise and skills in various specialized sectors which include engineering, Medicine, ICT and others. The chairman of the Kenyans in Japan Dr. Emmanuel Mutisya emphasized the patriotism that Kenyan professionals have for the country and therefore better placed to undertake advisory jobs for the government.

Diaspora bond
The president informed the meeting that the government will launch the Diaspora bond next year (2016) that will offer investment opportunities for Kenyans living and working abroad. He reiterated the need to come together as groups so that they can maximize on such an opportunity which the diaspora bond will offer. He also urged Kenyans in Japan to invest in Kenya to create job opportunities for other Kenyans.

Diaspora policy
The president informed the meeting that the government had launched diaspora policy to guide in harnessing the wealth and expertise of Kenyans in the diaspora in order to contribute positively to Kenya's development. The president observed that the policy appreciates the abundance of skills, knowledge, and patriotism of Kenyans in the diaspora and hence the need to integrate them in the national development agenda.

Diaspora voting
The president informed the meeting that the government was working on a framework to enable the diaspora to participate as voters in future national elections.


African institute of remittances
The president informed the meeting of the formation of African institute of remittances that is aimed at reducing cost and increasing speed of transactions.

Conclusion
In the end, the president assured the Kenyans living in Japan that the government was not only looking at diaspora in terms of their remittances but also in terms of their potential to assist Kenya through their expertise and people to people diplomacy (diplomatic relationship forged through contact or interaction between persons of different countries). The President also noted the upcoming Kenya Diaspora Investment Conference in September and his invitation to attend the conference. The president promised to attend either in person or through a representative. The president also promised Kenyans that the Government would initiate a bilateral air services’ arrangement to facilitate Kenya airways direct flights between Kenya and Japan to reduce the time taken to travel between the two countries. He also urged Kenyans to embrace manufacturing in Kenya where people will consume locally made goods as opposed to used commodities imported from other countries. He ended by commending Kenyans resident in Japan for making very useful recommendations on ways they can contribute towards national development as opposed to merely making demands on the government.

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