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Majak Kuany Alier (Right) receiving certificate of completion from Mr. Wada Yasuhiko (Left), deputy Director General for Industrial Development and Public Policy after attending 21-day course on the Role of the Media in Democratic Countries –Access to Information and Function as a Watchdog. Photo taken on February 22, 2023 at JICA Tokyo center (photo: Yukie Muramatsu)

Juba should strengthen existing bilateral ties with Tokyo to promote people-to-people relationships

By Majak Kuany Alier

JUBA, March 3, 2023 – The Republic of South Sudan is the youngest country in the world after achieving independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011 with its capital, Juba.

Juba has since then built mutual diplomatic ties with its immediate neighbors, region, continent, some Asian countries including several western countries and first world nations like America, Japan after becoming a member state to the United Nations and UN security Councils, having obtained its membership without a vote or objection raised by its members on 14 July 2011.

In its pursuit of respect, stability, prosperity, the African third-country oil producer has good friends, including what diplomats have described as “Friends in Need.”

 A friend in need is a friend indeed. The meaning of this adage is that a friend who helps you when you are in trouble is a true friend.

As a journalist and as a person who visited Japan recently, I am here to stress the essence of South Sudan building true friendship with Japan because of the reasons this opinion would like to explore.

Japan has a strong and cohesive society which is the fundamental condition for the smooth development of its cities and prefectures. That is what a 12-year-old country needs to follow its example. Japan, through its international cooperative activities in all countries, aims at promoting a culture of peace.

Among all the First World countries that support the young republic, Japan is one of the countries that has strengthened its development support for South Sudan without any financial strings attached.

Since the independence of the youngest landlocked country in Eastern Africa, Japan has contributed enormously to improving the country’s infrastructure.

The dividends from these projects include, Juba Freedom Bridge that was built with an estimated 90 million US dollars. Under the Improvement of Basic Economy and Social Infrastructure. There are other three projects incorporated into this project.

Japan is also strengthening capacity development of South Sudan Broadcasting Cooperation (SSBC) under its project of Strengthening Governance and Security.

I can mention all the projects Japan is doing in South Sudan, but it is not the essence of this article rather the piece is to hint to some of the activities the young nation is benefiting from the Japanese taxpayers. Therefore, it is good to have a people-to-people merit and this can be achieved through establishing a strong embassy in Tokyo to promote political, cultural and social relationships between the two countries. South Sudan is yet to have a fully serviceable embassy despite having assigned ambassador, consular including the minister plenipotentiary.  The embassy will be able to lobby the government of Japan to increase scholarships to our students interesting to study either for undergraduates or postgraduates’ programs.

Japan is a country that has only met its commitments through tangible results since 2007. In all the projects they have financed in South Sudan, they have spent over an estimated $700 million from Japanese taxpayers.

During my recent visit to Tokyo, our embassy staff lack the necessary mobility. This makes it difficult for the Ambassador and other staff members to visit the Tokyo JICA Centre frequently to meet with South Sudanese participants, as do other embassies.

Each month, JICA Tokyo welcomes a lot of participants from all different fields from different regions of the world. In which the participants of South Sudan are still the majority, Kosovo follows.

During our 21-day course in Tokyo on the role of the media in democratic countries –Access to Information and Function as a watchdog, South Sudan had five out of the 15 participants from eight countries.

Three days before we were to leave Tokyo a number of 12 South Sudanese local chiefs from three regions namely greater Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal were participating in a capacity building of state and county government for local development and community rebuilding.

Imagine that number of participants with a cost of over US$1,600 in airfare per person plus accommodation, food, living allowance, including medical insurance card for one country alone. I believe our participants will return to South Sudan with a wealth of knowledge, skills, and they will share their learning experiences on how the Tokyo peace model can be applied in our country amid our quest for peaceful coexistence.

It is this sense that I strongly urge our country’s leadership, especially the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation to equally give priority to Japan in completing the full setup of the embassy in Tokyo like they have done to other embassies in the world.

The presentation of each country’s embassy is to build a robust people-to-people relationship because governments come and go but people will always remain at the center of the sustainable mutual ties.

The writer is a South Sudanese seasoned journalist, he currently serves as a Secretary General for the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS). He can be reached via or call at +211925848660.

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