Micronesian diplomat
in Hawaii to depart

The consul general is about to
become ambassador to Japan

Micronesia's consul general in Hawaii is leaving the islands at the end of this month to become his country's ambassador to Japan.

Kasio Mida, consul general in Honolulu since 1986, is scheduled to leave for Tokyo on Dec. 29.

"I feel that it's time for a change," Mida, 59, said in an interview last week. "Careerwise, this is good. I feel I will make more contributions to my country as an ambassador."

Mida's appointment as ambassador to Japan was approved by Micronesia's congress in October.

Micronesia, a scattered archipelago about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, is one of three Freely Associated States in the South Pacific.

Under an agreement with the United States known as a Compact of Free Association, the island state is recognized as an independent nation, and its citizens are granted free migration to U.S. soil. In exchange the U.S. government provides financial aid and is allowed free access to the islands' land and waterways for defense purposes.

The compact, first negotiated in 1986, was recently renewed by the U.S. Congress through 2023 and is awaiting President Bush's signature. Micronesia would receive $76.7 million over the 20-year compact, and the United States also would set up a trust fund that would grow each year and eventually support the islands when the agreement expires.

Once signed by Bush, the agreement must be ratified by the Micronesian congress. Mida said he expects ratification, despite the misgivings from some officials who had hoped for more U.S. aid.

Mida said the compacts have been helpful to Micronesia because it has allowed citizens to come to the United States -- particularly Hawaii -- for educational opportunities and jobs.

Hawaii counts slightly fewer than 7,000 Micronesians among the state's population of 1.2 million.

"Every year, we see an influx of citizens," Mida said. "The compact opens the U.S. to us so we can get the needed education and needed skills to someday go back and help in the building of a nation."

Mida said he is also pleased with how the Micronesian community in Hawaii has become more civic-minded by participating in quarterly beach cleanups and other community activities.

"I think we have improved the relations between Micronesia and the state government and the city and county government, and also the military," Mida said. "We have good relations with all those entities."


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