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By Arieta Vakasukawaqa in Suva

It was the friendliness of Fijians that led educator Hiroshi Taniguchi to give up his Japanese citizenship and make Fiji his home.

The 50-year-old is a National Federation Party (NFP) provisional candidate for the 2022 general election.

He moved to Fiji in 2004 and then established the Freebird Institute in the Western Division in 2014, now one of the biggest language institutes in Fiji.

The institute has educated more than 15,000 students from 29 countries since its establishment.

It is listed in the South Pacific Stock Exchange.

“The first time I came to Fiji was in 2002,” Taniguchi said.

“I hung around with locals, they invited me for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Fiji ‘the place for me’
“During my stay in Fiji, I only spent my money twice to buy food because everywhere I went they invited me to eat with them.

“I had never seen anything like this, and I knew that Fiji was the place for me.

“For 18 years now I’ve been living in Fiji and I have never regretted anything.

“I didn’t feel like I sacrificed my Japanese citizenship because, to be honest, I am enjoying being a Fijian.

“Now I have to apply for a visa if I want to visit my friends or family in Japan.”

Taniguchi said the Japanese government did not allow dual citizenship.

He is originally from Obama City, located close to Japan’s old capital, Kyoto.

He was educated at Tongji University, China, where he studied a major in applied physics.

One of China’s earliest national universities, it is located in Shanghai City and dates back to 1907.

Fluent in Chinese
Taniguchi worked in Hong Kong, Thailand, Europe and Japan before settling in Fiji.

“I am fluent in Chinese because I spent four years studying in China where I studied physics so I’m more of a science man.

“I even have a telescope tent. I love science and I am also businessman.”

If he wins in the general elections, Taniguchi said he would change the education system and work culture.

“The biggest problem in any country is nepotism, I think it is part of the culture in Fiji, and people express their love by giving their relatives or friends opportunities.

“To love each other is a very beautiful thing but when it comes to running a company or civil service, people should be appointed according to merit.

“I really want to change this country with my ideas that uplift the standard of education and civil service and take it to another level.”

He said he chose NFP because he believed that it was the only political party that could work with other parties to uplift the standard of service in Fiji.

“During the general election, I don’t want to sell my face,” he said.

“It is my ideas that I want to tell people.”

Arieta Vakasukawaqa is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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