JAPAN will upgrade its office in Honiara to embassy level.
Its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe affirmed this over the weekend when he held bilateral talks with Deputy Prime Minister Douglas Ete in the Japanese city of Iwaki.
The talks were held at the conclusion of the seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM), which Mr Ete attended on behalf of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Mr Abe told Mr Ete his government’s decision to upgrade its diplomatic office in Honiara was in recognition of the growing diplomatic relation Japan has with Solomon Islands.
“Japan highly valued its relations with Solomon Islands so in recognition of that, we have decided to open an embassy in the Solomons,” Mr Abe said.
Japan’s diplomatic office in Honiara currently operates under the Japanese Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
The head of the office is often referred to as the Charge d’Affaires.
The decision to upgrade the office to embassy level means the head of the office will now be referred to as the ambassador and that the number of Japanese diplomats serving in the office is expected to increase.
Mr Abe also told Mr Ete of his government’s approval of $3.2 billion yen (around SBD$201 million) for the upgrading of the Kukum Highway.
Officials of both governments signed the funding agreement in Honiara on Tuesday.
Under the project, the three kilometre road from the city council round-about to the Ministry of Fisheries at Kukum will be upgraded.
The one-lane Mataniko bridge will also be rebuilt and upgraded to two lanes, while the two lane bridge will be increased to four.
The city council round-about will also be redesigned and upgraded from the existing two lanes to three.
The Honiara Market bus stops will also be upgraded, with the construction of two-lane bus bays. The project will also see the upgrading and
improvement of the Vura junction to cater for the increasing heavy traffic in the area.
This huge project is expected to alleviate the worsening traffic congestion problem in Honiara.
Mr Abe assured Mr Ete that Japan will continue to assist in the sustainable development of Solomon Islands.
Meanwhile, Mr Ete thanked the Japanese government and people for the many development projects they’ve funded in the country.
He said Japan’s assistance to Solomon Islands is no small measure but something Solomon Islanders will always value and cherish as the two
countries continue to develop their diplomatic relationship.
Mr Été assured Mr Abe the country looks forward to working closely with Japan in the many years to come.