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Portia boasts of 2011 election victory to Japanese lawmakers

'I whipped Andrew'

BY COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter robinsonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 07, 2013    

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TOKYO, Japan — Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller yesterday told Japanese legislators that she gave Opposition Leader Andrew Holness a whipping in the national leadership debate in the run-up to the December 2011 general elections.

"The media gave the gentleman the edge, but the night of the debate I whipped him," Simpson Miller boasted, as she explained to the House of Councillors how she became Jamaica's first female prime minister, and that she was holding the office for the second time.

"The demand for my presence in the 63 constituencies was very high," she continued, "and the fact that I represent the strongest constituency for the party, I was able to give of [myself] the other constituencies to ensure that we had a landslide victory. And we did."

Simpson Miller, who is on a three-day visit to this Asian country, told the members of the Upper House that since the election she has been having regular meetings with the electorate to ensure that she remains "close to the people", despite the many challenges facing the country, especially those relating to the economy and the recent financing agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

She said that her closeness to the Jamaican people facilitated their asking questions, making suggestions, and speaking on the country's issues.

"We are going for growth and development with job creation, and, alongside our Jamaican investors, we have been encouraging investors to invest in our beautiful country," she said, adding that Jamaica is small but its people have been making significant contributions on the international scene.

Earlier in the meeting, Simpson Miller lauded the achievements of the Japan-Jamaica Friendship Commission established in 1998, and charged Phillip Paulwell, minister of science, technology, energy and mining, to revitalise it as soon as they return home.

"I attach great importance to the work of the commission," she said. "It can play an important role in bolstering the friendship between the two countries."

Now is the most opportune time, Simpson Miller said, as she noted that next year both countries will be celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations.

Paulwell, who is a member of Simpson Miller's delegation here, accepted the challenge, assuring the Japanese councillors that both the ruling People's National Party and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party share similar sentiments regarding the importance of Jamaica's relationship with Japan.

"I will give it my personal attention and leadership, and I am looking forward to the various exchanges as we celebrate 50 years of bilateral relationships," said Paulwell in his address.

Japan's ambassador to Jamaica and Jamaica's envoy to Japan both reflected on their experiences at the meeting, and promised to work closer to improve relations between Kingston and Tokyo.

"I have been enjoying both business and pleasure in Jamaica. The weather is good and the scenery is good; there are beautiful mountains," Yasuo Takase, Japan's ambassador to Jamaica, told the meeting. "But the most excellent part is the people. The people are fun and the hospitality of the Jamaican people is very good."

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