Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe breaks down in tears

HARARE, – THERE was drama here when the Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe, Koichi Morita, openly wept before invited guests gathered to witness the signing ceremony of a US$5,6 million grant his country was giving Zimbabwe for various infectious diseases protection for children.\r\n

Morita, in tears, told invited guests that because of the recent devastating earthquake his country had suffered he could, therefore, not sign the US$5 653 000 grant that they had pledged to Zimbabwe because he had not "communicated" with his "boss, the Minister of Foreign Affairs" back in Japan.

Invited guests included the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) Country Representative, Dr Peter Salama, the Resident Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tsunehiro Kawakita, as well as local and international journalists based in Harare.

"I am sorry but we will have to cancel this signing ceremony today," Morita said in tears.
"We thank all of you for coming here and we will have to reschedule this important event. I am very touched by the Government of Zimbabwe and all of you who continue to pray and offer us help."

He said there had been a breakdown of communication between Harare and Tokyo and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to whom he reports had not given the nod for the project to take off and seeing that there had been an earthquake and "things might be different tomorrow".

A high ranking official from the Japanese Embassy then told Radio VOP in an exclusive interview that there was now a new Minister of Foreign Affairs who had not yet sanctioned the grant project between Japan and Zimbabwe to help Zimbabwe’s children.

"In Japan officials must be told what to do and what not to do or they risk many things including being killed by their bosses," he said.

"The Ambassador does not want to take any risks and because he has not been given the nod to go ahead with this function he simply cannot go ahead and has decided to cancel it instead."

Japan is known to have a strong working culture and officials sometimes commit suicide if and when they go against their working ethics.

Leaders such as managers and even Prime Ministers have been found hanged due to failure to follow instructions from above.

The official said, however, there would not be any "change of heart" between Japan and Zimbabwe and his country would continue to help the vulnerable children in the country.

The "unsigned" US$5 653 000 grant provided for the procurement of vaccines for preventable and often fatal infectious disease among Zimbabwean children.

The drugs would directly support Zimbabwe’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation (ZEPI), as well as UNICEF’s Child Health Days, which include the provision of Vitamin A supplements.

A spokesman for the project said the its main objective was to strengthen routine immunisation services, with particular focus on reaching vulnerable populations and thus prevent and reduce morbidity and mortality attributed to vaccine preventable diseases among children under five.

He said more specifically the project seeks to ensure that immunised children are reached and increase immunisation coverage of drugs to at least 95 percent at national level by December 2011.

"It will target more than 372 000 under ones and nearly 509 000 pregnant women," he said in an interview.