Japan-Palau Alumni Series: Vol.8 Mr. Brian Melairei


Mr. Brian Melairei is one of the successful alumni of the Japanese Government Scholarship offered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to Palauan students since 1982. He studied Civil Engineering at Yomiuri School of Engineering for 2 years after completing 6 months of the Japanese Language course at Bunka Institute of Language in Tokyo from 1988 to 1991.  
When Mr. Melairei graduated from high school, he was having a hard time deciding where to further his education as there was only a limited number of scholarship options at that time. Mr. Melairei eventually received an acceptance letter from the University of Hawaii, and then, a week later, he received another news from the Embassy of Japan that he has been accepted into the MEXT Scholarship’s Specialized Training College program. Mr. Melairei chose the scholarship to study in Japan in October 1988 considering his financial situation, and he still believes that he made the right choice back then.
Mr. Melairei had studied the Japanese language in Palau High School prior to studying in Japan, so it was easy for him to adjust to life in Japan. However, he did feel homesick at times, since communicating with family between Japan and Palau was not as easy as it is today. Mr. Melairei was fortunate that he met a Japanese man named Mr. Hotta, who had been a friend of his father and allowed Mr. Melairei and other Palauan students to live in his apartment in Urayasu, Chiba prefecture, for free. While Mr. Melairei and his friends participated in the community activities such as trash pick-up, they became well known in the small community of Urayasu.
Although Mr. Melairei was busy while studying in Japan, he still managed to make his stay in Japan an enjoyable one. He would visit parks, listen to live bands in Harajuku, and loved eating Japanese food with his favorite being gyudon (beef bowl) with egg. He even traveled to many places in Japan. He has been to Minami Sanriku, Ishigaki, and has been to Osaka many times.
Mr. Melairei said that he felt a sense of relief and accomplishment when he finished studying in Japan in 1991. He then returned to Palau to work with Nishimatsu Construction. After Nishimatsu finished all the projects they had in Palau, they sent Mr. Melairei to work for their waterline and sewer line projects in Guam towards the end of 1992.
While Mr. Melairei was in Guam, the President at the time, Mr. Kuniwo Nakamura approached him, asking him to come back to Palau to work for the Palau government. Mr. Melairei applied for a position at the Bureau of Public Works under the Ministry of Resources and Development (now Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Industries), where his father was the Minister at the time. Mr. Melairei’s father decided not to hire him at first, considering that it would be a direct conflict of interest if his son worked under the same Ministry. However, at the behest of the former President Kuniwo Nakamura, Mr. Melairei ended up being hired as a Junior Field Engineer at the division of Capital Improvement Project (CIP) in the Bureau of Public Works of the Ministry of Resources and Development in 1993. From 2007 to 2013, Mr. Melairei served as a manager of the division of CIP, and then he became the Director of the Bureau of Public Works where he still serves the position to this day.
Mr. Melairei said that the lessons he learned while in Japan have helped him in his career. He learned the importance of being consistently punctual and how to effectively negotiate with people. Mr. Melairei supports further enhancement of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Palau. He hopes both countries will continue to prosper together moving forward.