October 6, 2023– Tokyo, Japan: A delegation from the Governments of Fiji, Palau, and Vanuatu has travelled to Japan this week, furthering a collaborative partnership between the three countries in the areas of digitization and border management.
As part of its commitment to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision, the Government of Japan strives to promote unrestricted and resilient economic activity throughout the region. Recognizing the significance of digitalization, the Government of Japan is supporting the adoption of digital solutions for border management across the Pacific to advance economic growth.
The study tour is supported by the Government of Japan and its Project for Strengthening Border Control Capacity for the COVID-19 Crisis, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.
The project aims to support border agencies in Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu in reinforcing their capacities, capabilities and systems for effective and efficient movement of travellers and cargo, and to strengthen links for data and knowledge sharing, inter-agency and cross-regional cooperation, and the use of digitalization as a border management tool across the Pacific.
Following an initial video link with the Government of Japan’s Digital Agency – which commenced the digitalization conversations in April – and a visit to Fiji in May from Digital Agency officials, representatives from Fiji, together with Palau and Vanuatu, have travelled to Tokyo to further discuss the implementation of a digital arrival card system to streamline border entry processes.
The digital arrival card is an electronic version of the physical arrival card currently in use, containing personal information, trip and health declaration details. It is an online document that can be accessed through mobile devices and computers allowing passengers to fill and submit information prior to arrival, and is currently used in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan.
Spearheaded by Fiji’s Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, the rollout of a digitized arrivals systems for passengers entering the country falls in line with the government’s overall digital transformation strategy, along with the National Border Security Upgrade Priorities 2023-2028.
While in Japan the delegation will see firsthand how the Visit Japan Web digital arrival system – led by Japan’s Digital Agency – works at various ports of entry, discuss relevant legislation and coordination with multiple agencies, budget and software maintenance, and associated information management and cyber security risks associated with a digitized arrival card initiative.
The establishment of Visit Japan Web has been warmly received by incoming passengers to the country’s ports of entry – greatly improving quarantine, immigration and customs declaration processes.
Director-General Group of Service for Citizens, Digital Agency of Japan, Keisuke Murakami, made note of the significance of the collaboration.
“It is our pleasure to share our experiences of Visit Japan Web with our Pacific neighbours, and we warmly welcome the delegation to Tokyo. Following our visit to Fiji earlier this year we are excited to continue supporting the digitalization efforts of other countries across the region, and we look forward to showcasing our world-leading work in the field of automation and digitalization,” he said.
Leading the delegation to Japan, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Mason Smith, said digitizing the arrivals process into the country would create a single window passenger clearance system, reducing clearance time and person-to-person contact for those entering Fiji.
“The digitization of Fiji’s passenger arrival card will create a future where seamless entry experiences, advanced data management, and robust security measures become the norm. This process will strengthen the country’s immigration and security systems, this being of particular importance for Fiji as tourism numbers continue to surge on the back of COVID-19 restrictions ending. On behalf of the Government of Fiji I would like to thank the Government of Japan for their strong partnership in helping to support this rollout,” he said.
Resident Representative, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Munkhtuya Altangerel, said the project champions collaboration and knowledge sharing, with the visit to Japan to boost border management in Fiji.
“The reasons for having a digitalization strategy are clear, but the difficulties of putting it into practice are often underestimated. This visit to Japan’s Digital Agency alongside the ongoing support from UNDP’s Integrated Border Management Project are helping us to build genuine cooperation between key border management stakeholders throughout the Pacific region,” she said.
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Nick Turner, Communications and Advocacy Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. (P) +679 971 6458 – (E) firstname.lastname@example.org