Japan honours MP Baba

Hon James Boliba Baba has been decorated for his contribution towards restoring and strengthening bilateral relations between Japan and Uganda.

The Japanese government conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star upon Hon. Baba in recognition for his contribution while serving as Ugandan Ambassador to Japan from 2001 to 2005.

“During that time, Hon. Baba introduced Uganda NERICA rice. Thanks to his contribution and with our rich experiences, Japan has been supporting rice farming in Uganda for over 10 years,” said Kazuaki Kameda, the Japanese Ambassador to Uganda.

The Order of the Rising Sun was established by Japanese Emperor Meiji in 1875 and is awarded for ‘meritorious civil or military service’.

The decoration ceremony, which was also attended by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, was held at Parliament Building on Tuesday, 12 June 2018.

After his tour in Japan, Baba was appointed Minister of State, Office of the Vice President, in 2006 and joined Parliament as an ex-officio member [representing no constituency]. In 2011, he was appointed Minister of State for Internal Affairs until 2016. Baba now represents Koboko County in the 10th Parliament.

The Ambassador said that Baba has been a key player in helping Ugandan orphans in collaboration with a Japanese Non Governmental Organisation, Ashinaga.

“He promotes Ashinaga’s Africa initiative, supporting higher education for orphaned students from Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Kameda.

Baba noted that he was posted at a time when the Japanese government had suspended all official development assistance to Uganda, and when critical infrastructure projects were being undertaken.

“As soon as I hit the ground in Tokyo, I embarked on restoring relations between the two countries. Sooner than later, all official development assistance to Uganda was restored and I consider that my greatest achievement,” said Baba.

He noted that since then, Japan has continued implementing infrastructure development to Uganda through grant funding including the ongoing construction of the Nile Bridge in Jinja.

Baba added that after restoring relationships, he embarked on promoting Ugandan exports to Japan. The products include Arabica coffee, vanilla, sesame and Nile perch.

“By the time I left, Uganda’s exports to Japan were earning the country close to US$20 million, almost from nothing by the time I was posted there [Japan],” said Baba.

Speaker Kadaga applauded Baba for restoring the relationship between the two countries, saying that bilateral relations are delicate.

“The society of Japan is a society of respect and hierarchy. If they see that things are not moving to that direction, it can cause problems, but I am happy that it was resolved,” she Kadaga.

She however expressed disappointment over what she termed, “a tendency to dismiss career diplomats,” who she said did great work, but remained largely unacknowledged.