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Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Photo by Floyd Takeuchi)

APIC, along with the cooperation of Foreign Press Center Japan (FPCJ), hosted five journalists from October 14th to 25th as part of its “Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship”. The topic of the program this year was “Environment Protection and Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation”.

Participants were Mr. Robert Luke Iroga from the Solomon Islands; Ms. Anita Roberts from Vanuatu; Ms. Shayal Devi from Fiji; Mr. Thomas A. Manglona, II from Guam; and Mr. Ryan Tyler Bachoo from Trinidad and Tobago. Mr. Floyd Takeuchi, Program Coordinator, and Ms. Dawn Matus, Assistant Program Coordinator, joined the group. The rule of the fellowship is that at the end of each day’s activities the journalists gather together and go through what they have seen, and under the guidance of the program coordinator, each journalist proceeds to write at least one article a day. APIC Executive Director Sobashima accompanied the group on their visits outside of Tokyo.

This time, the group reported not only from Tokyo, but also from Osaki Town in Kagoshima Prefecture, as well as Hitoyoshi City, Minamiaso Town, and Kumamoto City of Kumamoto Prefecture.

This fellowship has been taking place since 2015, but the COVID-19 Pandemic forced its suspension in 2020 and 2021, but resumed again in 2022. This is the 7th fellowship which has taken place thus far.


Visit and Briefing in Tokyo

On the 15th the journalists met with the program coordinator who gave them some initial advice before experiencing the city. On the 16th they received a comprehensive explanation of the prepared program. APIC President Shigeie responded to individual interviews regarding APIC’s activities. Their next stop was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where they met with officials from the Oceania Division of the Asian and Oceanic Affairs Bureau, and the Caribbean Division of the Latin American Caribbean Affairs Bureau, who talked about Japan’s relationship with the countries in the respective regions.

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Interview with APIC President Shigeie)

Reporting on Recycling in Osaki Town, Kagoshima Prefecture

The group traveled to the town of Osaki in Kagoshima Prefecture on the 17th, where they saw and heard efforts the town has made to become Japan’s best recycling town for 14 years straight (83.1% recycling rate in 2020), until the morning of the 19th. During their time in the town, they paid a courtesy call to the town’s mayor, Mr. Yasuhiro Higashi, who explained the town’s policies and efforts. They visited a landfill, So-o Recycling Center, and an organic fertilizer factory where the participants had the opportunity to experience making fertilizer. They also observed residents separating recyclables when taking out the trash. The group participated in Osaki Elementary School’s international exchange event, and ate school lunch with the pupils and watched with interest as the children washed and recycled their milk cartons after eating.

Osaki Town, which does not have an incinerator and whose landfill was starting to reach its limits, decided not to increase its landfill size or to build an incinerator, but to instead reduce its waste by recycling. With the consent of its residents, the town has reached the highest recycling rate in the nation. The town recycles its wet trash (30% of all garbage) and garden waste etc. (also about 30%) to turn into fertilizer, turning approximately 60% of trash into natural resources. Recycling of other items which are turned into resources push the recycling rate past 80%, drastically reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Hands-on experience making fertilizer)

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Observing residents separate trash)

Reporting on Water Disaster and Earthquake Responses in Kumamoto

The group traveled for Kumamoto Prefecture on the 19th. They visited Hitoyoshi City offices, where they learned about the 2020 torrential rains and ensuing disaster in the area, and the “Lighting Disaster Alert System” that was installed on Mizunote Bridge after the devastating rains in order to report the flood danger level of the Kuma River. Afterward, they had the opportunity to inspect the system in-person. Disaster response talks continued at Nabeya Hotel, which suffered damage from the torrential rains. The observation of the reconstructed buildings of the hotel followed the explanation of the disaster. The last venue in Hitoyoshi City was Yamatoichi Shuzomoto Distillery, where the group learned about the damages incurred from the heavy rains, and observed how the distillery took lessons learned from the disaster to renovate its property.

In the morning of the 20th, the group traveled to Minamiaso Village to visit KIOKU (Kumamoto Earthquake Disaster Museum), to learn about the devastating 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake. There, they received suggestions on how to prepare for the unpredictable event of an earthquake. In the afternoon, they visited the Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun newspaper company, where the managing editor talked about the 2020 torrential rains and the company’s response and lessons learned. He also treated the group to a tour of the company, while the group was counter-interviewed by a reporter of the Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun.

In the morning of the 21st, the group visited Kumamoto Castle, which is in the midst of reconstruction after the earthquake. A volunteer tour guide explained the damages the castle suffered from the earthquake, and the current progress of reconstruction efforts, among other information on the castle.

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Newly renovated distillery)

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Visiting the Kumamoto Earthquake Disaster Museum KIOKU)

Return to Tokyo and Completion Ceremony

The visiting journalists enjoyed learning about Japanese culture through wearing kimonos and participating in a tea ceremony on the 22nd.

On the 23rd, the group visited the venture company WOTA, which deals with water challenges facing the world, where they received explanations of their products. In the evening the completion ceremony for the Fellowship, as well as a dinner party hosted by APIC President Shigeie, took place, where the visiting journalists reflected on their time in Japan. Their comments included that the recycling activities which they had seen were much enlightening, and that their reports had already received positive responses in their respective home countries.

On the 24th, the group visited the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, where they actively discussed with their Japanese counterparts on a number of topics.

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Kimono experience)

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Visiting WOTA Co.)

Pacific & Caribbean Journalist Fellowship 2023
(Completion ceremony)


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