20 Sep 2005

Fiji relations with Japan damaged, claims fishing industry

3:43 pm on 20 September 2005

A prominent member of Fiji's fishing industry is concerned that relations between Fiji and Japan will suffer as a result of the cabinet pulling the plug on a Japanese-funded aid project.

Graham Southwick, the managing director of Fiji Fish Limited, says the fisheries minister, Konisi Yabaki, should be sacked because he supported the Lami jetty project when it was clear it would fail.

The cabinet decision followed years of opposition to the project by residents and landowners in Lami, which is close to Suva, who threatened to file a High Court injunction to stop it going ahead.

Mr Southwick says he doesn't know how the Japanese will react to the decision.

"They have been extremely generous to the fishing industry over the last ten or twenty years, putting a lot of money into fisheries infrastructure. But, they, like most people, do not react well to being embarrassed. And, what the final outcome of this will be, I'm not sure but they are not happy people."

Graham Southwick.

A spokesperson for the Japan International Co-operation Agency, the country's aid agency, says they've not been informed officially yet of the decision.