Japan-Palau Alumni Series: Vol.3 Mr. Ngiraibelas Tmetuchl
Mr. Ngiraibelas Tmetuchl, the Minister of Human Resources, Culture, Tourism and Development (MHRTCD) of the Republic of Palau, is an alumnus of Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship research program. He graduated with a Master’s degree in Economics from Yamaguchi University after completing a Japanese language course at Hiroshima University in Japan from 2000 to 2002.
Before pursuing his studies in Japan, Mr. Tmetuchl attended Willamette University in USA and gained his Bachelor degree in Business Economics. After that, he returned to Palau and worked for his father until he decided to further his education in Japan. His father, Mr. Roman Tmetuchl who passed away in 1999, had a lot of influence in his decision to study in Japan. Since he grew up with his father who he said was very strict, school life in Japan wasn’t too difficult for him.
Mr. Tmetuchl was a Special Assistant on Administrative Matters during former President Toribiong’s administration from 2009 - 2013. He is a former Chairman of the Palau Visitors Authority Board and currently an Ex-Officio member of Palau Visitors Authority Board, Belau Naional Museum, Small Business Development Center and other organizations. He also owns several private businesses such as real estate, tourism related businesses and farming.
As the Minister of Human Resources, Culture, Tourism and Development, Mr. Tmetuchl oversees about 2,000 employees who work in various sectors of the government such as labor, tourism and historical preservation. What he brings to the Ministry comes from what he learned in Japan. He says education is happening not only in the classroom but also outside the classroom. Experiences outside the classroom, such as the lifestyle, culture and the society is a big part of his learning experience.
Minister Tmetuchl tries to introduce some of the Japanese social systems to Palau. While he was in Japan, he observed Japanese social characteristics such as the efficiency of the transportation system from the conductors actions to the location of toilets, retirees volunteering to maintain public areas and parks, system of Japan’s real estate, how the community businesses splits the proceeds from the public events and so on. He studied how people actually live by living close to the local community. He would enjoy going to a local public bath, where elderlies in the community would gather every day to chat. He also enjoyed travelling around Japan with the Seishun 18 ticket, which allows travelers an unlimited hop on hop off travel in ordinary trains from Hokkaido to Kyushu.
Minister Tmetuchl sees Japan as the best mix of traditional culture and modernity. He says the most important thing for Palau is finding a balance between culture and efficiency. He believes that it is possible to modernize, keep culture and conserve at the same time.
Towards the 30 years anniversary of Japan and Palau’s diplomatic relationship, Minister Tmetchul hopes that Palau and Japan will have more people to people exchanges, to learn from Japan how to improve Palauan government’s efficiency. He also hopes to see the youth of both countries connect and have more exchanges in the field of music, weaving, jewelry, pottery and culinary arts.