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Former Japanese national to contest

Avinesh Gopal And Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

HE has been living in Fiji for the past decade and loves the country so much that he has forfeited his Japanese citizenship.

The reason for him to forfeit his citizenship was to acquire a Fijian citizenship with the view to contest the general election.

After arriving in the country in 2004, he established the Freebird Institute in the Western Division to teach Japanese students the English language.

He started the school with only three Japanese students but today, more than 15,000 students have graduated from the institutes in Lautoka and Namaka.

Taniguchi Hiroshi told this newspaper he wanted to contest the election as an independent candidate but he was with the People's Democratic Party now.

"The electoral rules here don't qualify me as an independent candidate so I have teamed up with PDP because I like its policies and principles," he said.

"There are more than 1000 homes here that provide accommodation to Japanese students and the home owners will support me.

"I was approached by some friends to contest the general election and I applied for Fijian citizenship two years ago.

"I got it early this year and I had to lose my Japanese nationality to contest this election."

PDP leader Felix Anthony said the party would nominate Mr Hiroshi as a candidate very soon.

Mr Hiroshi said he had received a lot of support from friends on Facebook and he had also received a lot of friend requests and well wishes from the iTaukei, Fijians of Indian descent and the Chinese community.

While he appreciates what the Bainimarama government has done over the past eight years, he is concerned that it has not been transparent on the source of funds for infrastructure development.

Apart from being the CEO and president of Freebird Institute, Mr Hiroshi is also running Ba Provincial Secondary School in Lautoka since 2009.

In September 2010, he introduced free education at the school after upgrading facilities there and has lifted the education and sporting standards at the institute.

"Why won't I be able to lead the country if I can lead the schools? I can be a very good ambassador for Fiji and I can get direct support from Japan," said Mr Hiroshi.

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