Mr. Daniel Biau, Deputy Executive-Director of UN-HABITAT paid an official visit to the Government of Japan on 17 January to brief the officials on progress achieved in implementing the Japan-funded projects for the reconstruction of Iraq.
Mr. Biau and Mr. Madhab Mathema, Director of UN-HABITAT's Fukuoka-based Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, held talks with Ambassador Mr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Director-General, Economic Affairs Bureau, Mr. Toshihiro Aiki, Director, UN Administration Division, Mr. Fumio Iwai, Director, Second Middle East Division, Mr. Shigeru Ohmori, Director, First Africa Division, and Mr. Hideo Suzuki, Director of the Grant Aid Division. Mr. Biau also met with Mr. Toshi Noda, Director, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
Asked how UN-HABITAT could demonstrate strength and steady progress in Iraq through the projects funded by the Government of Japan despite the current difficult situation, Mr. Biau cited many years of working in Iraq, a strong working relationship with counterpart agencies, and expertise of the staff.
Mr. Biau arrived in Tokyo after visiting Amman, where he had constructive discussions with Dr. Medhi al-Hafedh, Minister of Planning and Development Cooperation of Iraq, and a number of senior officials from the Government of Iraq who attended a UN-HABITAT meeting on Iraqi cities.
Another important visit by Mr. Biau was to Honourable Taku Yamasaki, Chairman for Japan Parliamentarians on Habitat. Mr. Biau made a visual presentation on the progress of school and community rehabilitation projects in Iraq funded by the Government of Japan. As a Special Advisor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Mr. Yamasaki expressed his appreciation toward the agency’s activities in Samawa and said he looked forward to the agency playing a larger role in the reconstruction process for Iraq.
In light of a recent decision by the Government of Japan to fund a number of projects to address the immediate needs in Tsunami affected areas in Sri Lanka and Indonesia through UN-HABITAT, Mr. Yamasaki said that given the wide experience and capability of the agency in dealing with disaster related response needs, UN-HABITAT could contribute significantly to the reconstruction efforts that are underway in those countries.
Mr. Biau was scheduled to visit Fukuoka for talks with Governor Wataru Aso of Fukuoka Prefecture, Mayor Hirotaro Yamasaki of Fukuoka City and other important local partners of UN-HABITAT’s Fukuoka Office.