As the term of Japanese Ambassador to Iraq, Fumio Iwai, comes to an end, the ambassador that has won the hearts of millions of Iraqis discusses Japan and Iraq's continued diplomatic and economic relationship.
During a recent interview with Japan’s outgoing Ambassador, Fumio Iwai, the popular diplomat discussed Japanese investment into Iraq, as well as its ongoing commitment to the country’s development following the defeat of ISIS in the country.
Japan’s support for Iraq is centred on three salient points: the diversification of industry; the development of economic and essential infrastructure (much of which was destroying during the country’s occupation by ISIS and in the subsequent battle to eliminate the militants); and strengthening the country’s governance to nurture political stability nationwide.
“[Japan’s] support for stability is very important [for] humanitarian support given the crises that have passed through Iraq after the presence of ISIS,” said Ambassador Iwai.
Since 2014, Japan has provided more than $440 million worth of grants through humanitarian operations brokered by various organisations within the United Nations. Iraqi civil society, some of which has strong links with the United Nations within Iraq, has benefited from Japan’s financial support.
Japan has also made financial contributions to the Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO), which is supporting rural and agricultural development within the country.
“I believe through this contribution that [the] FAO is doing useful activities to strengthen the agriculture sector,” said Ambassador Iwai. “As for training in horticulture, this project was finished but was in the Kurdistan region. Several Japanese experts were present there and they were training the directors of the agricultural offices to transfer gardening techniques.”
As reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts commence across Iraq, foreign states, as well as private donors and investors, continue to take a leading role in covering the estimated $100 billion that Iraq requires for reconstruction.
Although the security situation within Iraq has gradually been brought back under the control of the Iraqi Security Forces following the formal defeat of ISIS in December last year, the use of scorched earth tactics by the militant group means that the reconstruction of Iraq will likely take up to a decade.
Previously occupied cities and provinces, such as Nineveh, Anbar and Salahuddin, have been subjected to up to 80% destruction. The city of Mosul alone will require $30 billion to restore the city back to its pre-ISIS condition.
Japan, like other foreign investors, is taking advantage of Iraq’s natural resources and human cadres to create a better future for the country’s next generations and to nurture a spirit of common citizenship. “You have to focus on these things and develop them,” Ambassador Iwai said. “This is the most important thing”.