Ambassador of Japan to India, Satoshi Suzuki today remarked that the Cherry Blossom Festival in Meghalaya will build ‘people to people’ relationship between India and Japan and outlined a number of initiatives taken by his government to seal the partnership.
Suzuki who inaugurated the festival in Shillong said exchange of programme between the two nations is essential to enhance cultural ties. He informed that Japan has been inviting promising young leaders from the North East region under the Japanese programme ‘Iris’ and Indian students have resumed travelling to Japan under the Japanese scholarship programme.
As North East enjoys a strategic location that is key to the realization of Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision, he said, “Japan is proud of being a reliable and staunch partner for the North east based on our based on our historical ties, trust and friendship, the shining example of our assistance to the region is the North East Road Connectivity Project which will greatly benefit Meghalaya and enhance connectivity with Assam and Bangladesh.”
Suzuki also informed that Japan will resume TITP (Technical Intern Training Program) to facilitate international workers to work for up to five years in Japan and learn Japanese way of working.
He further informed that India and Japan have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on a basic partnership framework for operation of the Specified Skilled Worker (SSW) system under which the Japanese government accepts foreign nationals who have a certain level of expertise and skill.
It may be mentioned that the Specified Skilled Worker (SSW) is a new status of residence created by Japan in 2019 under which skilled Indian nationals can obtain jobs and stay in Japan. The MoC covers 14 categories of specified skills under which skilled workers from India would be eligible for employment in Japan.
Suzuki also spoke on conservation of nature and said Japan has been assisting in realizing sustainable development through JAICA’s projects for community-based forest management and libraries improvement. “We aim to restore and conserve forest and natural resources of the village communities and also helping Meghalaya to utilize its abundant water resources by renovating and modernizing the Umiam hydroelectric power plants,” he informed.
Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma said that the government is trying to make the annual event inclusive and innovative while promoting music, art and culture. “For a region like the North East that has immense talent, it is not only about giving them a platform but also giving them the opportunity to come together to learn and to share their ideas and talents,” he said.
Informing that in the run-up to 50 years of statehood a number of befitting programmes have been lined up across the State the chief minister said the government will give an opportunity to the youth to showcase their talents.
“The government in the next few months will for the first time engage with the musicians of the State in a very constructive manner giving budding local musicians not only the platform but helping them to take Music as a career option,” he said. He further added that the government is focused on creating entrepreneurs out of the artists in a sustainable model where the talent and passion of a youth can become his livelihood.
During the programme, the website and merchandise for the Meghalaya Golden Jubilee celebration was officially released.
Meanwhile, the first edition of Shillong Literary Festival that was also a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival was also inaugurated during the occasion to provide opportunity to writers, readers and authors from the State to connect with other big names of literati from the country.
Other events scheduled for the festival are art and writing engagement comprising of illustrations, short stories, essays, painting, and photography. Many competitions such as singing, fashion show, cosplay, local winemaking, Japanese and Korean food preparation, Mr & Miss Shillong Cherry Blossom, Mrs Shillong Cherry Blossom, graffiti making, among others will be witness in the event that will conclude on November 27.