Environment media officer picked for Japan Fellowship

2019 APIC Japan Journalism Fellows Announced

The Department of Environment’s National Communication and Information Officer Iliesa Tora is one of the four senior journalists from the Caribbean and Pacific region selected for the APIC Japan Journalism Fellows for 2019. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

Tokyo, Japan – June 20, 2019: 1.45pm (APIC/Enviro News): Tonga’s Department of Environment’s Communication and Information Officer Iliesa Tora is among four senior journalists from the Caribbean and Pacific and two students from Tokyo-area universities selected as APIC Japan Journalism Fellows for 2019.

The Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC), a Tokyo-based private foundation that nurtures relations between Japan and nations of Oceania and the Caribbean, sponsors the annual journalism fellowship program, which gets underway in October.

This year’s theme is ‘The Environment and Disaster Preparedness’.

The fellowship requires candidates to be nominated and then apply in a competitive selection process.

“This year’s APIC Japan Journalism Fellows is our most senior professional group in the five years we have been sponsoring the fellowship,” said APIC President Peter Yoshiyasu Sato, a retired ambassador and career diplomat in Japan’s diplomatic service.

Mr Tora has been endorsed by the Department of Environment’s Director Lupe Matoto and the Head of the Islands and Ocean Ecosystems Division Ta’hirih Hokafonu.

Thirty-two journalists have been APIC Japan Journalism Fellows since 2015.

In addition, this is the third year that student fellows will participate in the program.

The APIC Japan Journalism Fellowship is unique among such programs in that it also requires participants to write daily stories, and then share them with other fellows as a learning experience. The program’s intense pace allows participants to test their professional skills in a semi-competitive environment while learning about Japan.

This year’s professional fellows include the editor-publisher-founder of a national newspaper; the founder and consulting editor of an online newspaper; a multi-award-winning] correspondent for one of the oldest newspapers in the Caribbean; and the founder and chief correspondent of a video-centric multi- media news website.

Two student APIC Japan Journalism Fellows will join them. One student fellow is a senior at Sophia University who has done reporting in the earthquake- and tsunami-hit Tohoku region. The other 2019 student fellow is completing her master’s degree at International Christian University, and has won awards in major comedy competitions in Japan.

This year’s program continues the fellowship’s focus on the environment and disaster preparedness, and lessons to be learned from Japan’s experiences dealing with deadly earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanic eruptions. Professional and student fellows will interview leading academic, government and private-sector officials and experts in Tokyo; the Kumamoto region, which in 2016 was hit by deadly earthquakes that killed 225 people; and on Kumejima, a small island in Okinawa prefecture that has developed manufacturing and aquaculture industries around an experimental Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion complex.

The 2019 APIC Japan Journalism Fellows are:

  1. Leilani Reklai, co-founder and editor-publisher of the Island Times newspaper, in the Republic of Palau. Reklai, who is active in civic affairs, also served for eight years as governor of Aimeliik State.

2. Iliesa Tora, founder and consultant/editor of the Nuku’alofa Times, an online news service in the Kingdom of Tonga. Tora is a veteran journalist with significant news media experience in his native Fiji.

He is also the Communication and Information officer for the Department of Environment in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

Mr Tora is also Chairman of the Pacific Environment Journalists Network (PEJN) and a Board Member of the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

3. Christopher Serju, senior correspondent covering the environment, agriculture and rural development, at The Gleaner newspaper in Kingston, Jamaica. Serju is a multiple-award-winning reporter on issues relating to the environment and climate change.

4. Andre Huie, CEO and co-founder of Palm Branch Media (Voice of the Caribbean Radio, SKN Newsline, JIFE Music record label) in St. Kitts and Nevis. Huie will be participating in his role as the senior journalist at SKN Newsline.

5. Rena Peterson, MA candidate at The International Christian University. Peterson has native fluency in English and Japanese, and earned her BA in anthropology at ICU. She is interested in journalism, and is president of ICU’s Japanese Comedy Club.

6. Koki Kubota, an undergraduate journalism major at Sophia University, has done a special studies project in the Tohoku region, which is the area most badly damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He [has also] completed an intensive English language program at Creighton University in the United States and also speaks Spanish.

The APIC Japan Journalism Fellowship partners with the Foreign Press Center Japan, which helps set up the fellowship’s daily program and manages logistics.

The fellowship’s project coordinator is Floyd K. Takeuchi, a veteran American journalist and media executive, who has more than 40 years of experience working in Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and Japan.

He is assisted by Assistant Project Coordinator Dawn Matus, an American with more than 30 years of journalism experience in Japan, and Assistant Project Coordinator Giff Johnson, long-time editor of The Marshall Islands Journal in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who has more than 30 years of news experience in the Pacific.

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