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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (August 21, 1998 - Marshall Islands Journal)---A high-powered delegation of government and private sector officials from Japan visited Majuro this week, discussing economic cooperation with island leaders.

While mission leader Toshio Mochizuki said that they were here to "promote economic exchange and to enhance friendship," he also said that the mission is looking for specific ideas and particular development projects that Japan -- either through government or private sector investment -- could get involved in.

The 12 member group is officially called the Japan-South Pacific Economic Mission and has officials from the Japan External Trade Organization, the Japan South Pacific Economic Association, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and officials from such companies as Mitsubishi, Yazaki Corp. and others.

This is the 21st year the mission has been coming to the Pacific, but only the second visit to the Marshall Islands. They head to Kiribati this weekend.

"Our purpose in visiting is to discuss how Japan can contribute to economic development," said Mochizuki, who is the executive director of the Japan External Trade Organization. The mission was interested to increase economic cooperation, trade and investment opportunities.

While government-to-government aid is a key part of Japan's development assistance, Mochizuki said that "we are fully aware of the need to develop the private sector." That's why the mission is a mix of private and government officials.

"We're still emphasizing economic cooperation from the government side, but this needs to be paralleled by private sector activity," he said. "It takes two wheels (to develop the economy)."

He said that the mission's intention was to create more awareness about this (private sector) "second wheel."

As an example of Japanese private sector investment in the region, Mochizuki noted that Yazaki Corp., which is represented on this mission, is operating a factory in Samoa that employs 2,000 people. "It's the biggest factory in the South Pacific," he said.

The group was to meet with President Kabua and other government and private sector leaders before leaving for Kiribati on Friday. They also hosted an informal reception at the Outrigger hotel Wednesday evening.

MARSHALL ISLANDS JOURNAL Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com Fax: 692-625-3136 Tel. 692-625-8143 Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year: US $87.00; International $227.00 (air mail)

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