Japan in talks to establish embassy in Maldives

Additional reporting by Mohamed Saif Fathih

The Japanese government has had funding approved for an embassy in the Maldives, reports the Japan Times.

Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida stated that the country aims to bolster diplomatic relations with different countries as the world marks 70 years since the end of the Second World War.

An official from the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs have told Minivan News that negotiations are ongoing regarding the new diplomatic mission.

Japan is one of the Maldives’ largest trading partners, importing over US$5.1 million worth of goods from the Indian Ocean nation in 2013 – a year on year increase of 48 percent. However, Japanese tourists only make up around 3 percent of arrivals to the Maldives.

Statistics available from the fisheries ministry showed that Maldivian fish exports to Japan expanded rapidly last year, growing from US$4.8 million in 2013 to over US$6.8 million between January and October in 2014.

Japan has traditionally donated large amounts of aid to the Maldives, with President Abdulla Yameen explaining during a state visit to Japan last April that that Japan was the Maldives’ most generous aid partner.

Data from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency  (JICA) – which already has offices in Malé – shows that the east Asian nation gave over US$450 million to the Maldives in development assistance between 2004 and 2010.

JICA recently completed the ‘Project for Clean Energy Promotion in Malé’ with the installation of 740 solar panels in 12 government buildings in the capital, at a cost of US$11.1 million (MVR141.5 million).

Other projects benefiting from Japanese aid have included the first mechanisation of fishing vessels between 1973-76, the development of Malé’s seawall between 1987-2003, and the extension of loans amounting to US$34 million for post-tsunami reconstruction.

Last month, the Japanese government gifted the Maldives ¥100,000,000 (US$840,000) in grant aid, as well as contributing MVR13.9 million to assist with repairs to Malé’s desalination plant – partially destroyed by fire on December 4.

The capital city currently hosts five full diplomatic missions – belonging to China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Maldives has had a full embassy in Tokyo since 2006.

According to the Japan Times, the Japanese government initially requested to create nine new embassies and six new consulates, and has opted to include six  embassies in 2015’s state budget,

In addition to the Maldives, Japan intends to establish embassies in Barbados, the Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Moldova, and Turkmenistan. Consulates will be established in the Mexican city of Leon and the German city of Hamburg.

Related to this story

President Yameen holds talks with Japanese prime minister

Japan gifts 100 million yen to government, Hitachi MVR1 million to water crisis fund


Search for missing Japanese husband persists

Maldivian authorities are working with the Japanese Embassy in Colombo to find the husband of the Japanese woman whose body washed up at the Adaaran Huduranfushi Island Resort last week.

A female body found on August 21 was confirmed to belong to the Japanese woman, age 28, who went missing from the resort with her husband, age 37, on August 17, reports Haveeru.

Local police officials said the body had decomposed after several days in the water, and DNA tests were needed to confirm it’s identity.

Preliminary investigations show drowning as a cause of death. There was no clear indication of foul play.

Management at Adaaran Huduranfushi discovered that the couple had gone missing after they missed two consecutive meals. Resort management immediately notified local authorities, who launched a search for the couple.


Body found on shore of Hudhuranfushi may belong to missing Japanese woman

A decomposing female body has been found on the shore of the Adhaaran Hudhuranfushi resort, a week after a 29 year-old Japanese tourist and her 37 year-old husband were reported missing from the property.

A staff member at Hudhuranfushi confirmed that the body found was female, but was unable to confirm whether it belonged to the missing Japanese woman.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that the body had yet to be formally identified and appeared to have been in the water for several days.

‘’The body is too decomposed for us to identify it, but it is clear that it was in the water for a couple of days,’’ Shiyam said. “We are currently running DNA tests, and will get whatever information we can from the results.”

Shiyam said that apart from the missing couple, there had been no other reports of missing persons in the area.

In a statement, the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) said that the resort’s management notified the authorities after noticing the that the couple had been absent for two consecutive meals. The couple were staying in a water villa, the MNDF stated.

“The management team went searching for the couple in their room, but the ‘Do Not Disturb’ board was displayed so they did not open the door. But after there was still no sign of the couple later, the management opened their room they found that they were not inside,’’ the MNDF said.

Police and MNDF were called around 8:40 pm on August 17.

MNDF officers have snorkeled around the island and searched the area using Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) seaplanes searching for the missing bodies since the report was filed.

Shiyam told Minivan News that “accidents may happen, but we don’t feel that there is anything to be concerned about with resort safety. We don’t feel the disappearance of the Japanese couple reflects on the resort’s safety procedures.”

Two weeks ago Minivan News reported on a British couple found dead following a quad bike accident on Kuredu Island Resort. Emma and Jonathan Gray had been married just seven days before the accident, when the quad bike they were riding on as passengers collided with a tree on the island. The driver, subsequently identified as Filip Petre, the son of a Kuredu resort shareholder, was seriously injured in the accident.


Four expats arrested for missionary activity

Four expatriates were arrested yesterday for suspected missionary activity, police have confirmed.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the four men were arrested yesterday afternoon, but he could not give further details as the case is still under investigation.

A teacher at Maafannu Madharusa, Aishat Rameeza, told Minivan News that four men entered the school office at around 10:00am and gave a book to a teacher and a parent, while she was present.

Rameeza said that they asked if the teachers knew a place called “Higher Education.”

”We said there are many higher educations,” Rameeza said. ”We thought they were asking about the faculty in old Jamaluddeen School, so we told them how to go there.”

She said the men then asked them where the local market was.

”When they were about to leave they gave a book to a teacher and a parent who was here, called ‘A story of redemption and steps to Christianity’, and said ‘here is a nice gift for you.'”

”We immediately informed the police but they did not seem to care,” Rameeza said. “We still have the book.”

Deputy Principal of Maafannu Madharusa Ahmed Farooq confirmed that four men came to the school yesterday and gave a book “of about 470 pages” to a pre-school teacher.

He said the school immediately informed the police.

”I heard they were arrested yesterday,” Farooq said. “They looked like they were Japanese or Chinese.”