Getting to the heart of PALM  Forum Leaders discuss regional priorities with Japan

The Stallion:

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum secured new commitments from the Government of Japan, as a Post-Forum Dialogue Partner, in supporting the political and development priorities of the Pacific region at the Seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7), held on 22 and 23 May 2015 in Iwaki-city, Fukushima, Japan.

During his opening address at PALM7, His Excellency Tommy Jnr Remengesau, President of Palau, stated, “the PALM process is important in progressing our regional relationship with Japan, who is a long-time friend of the Pacific region.”

Other Forum Leaders echoed sentiments of friendship and the Pacific Way. “Countries have existing robust bilateral relations with Japan,” stated President Baron Waqa of Nauru, “but what we value at PALM is the opportunity for Forum Countries to come together in solidarity to engage politically with Japan at a regional level.”

Disaster risk reduction was high on the agenda for Forum Leaders in their discussions with the Prime Minister of Japan, H.E. Shinzo Abe. Leaders and Prime Minister Abe shared their experiences of responding to and recovering from natural disasters, including the recent events of Cyclone Pam and Typhoon Maysak and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Forum Leaders offered their support to Prime Minister Abe’s proposal to establish World Tsunami Day on 5 November 2015 and welcomed Japan’s offer of support for Forum Island Countries’ national, sub-regional and regional efforts to strengthen disaster risk reduction.

Leaders emphasized the importance of ensuring the sustainable use of the ocean in accordance with regional frameworks including the Palau Declaration on The Ocean: Life and Future. As a major fishing nation in the Pacific Ocean, Japan undertook to further cooperate with countries and regional fisheries organisations to promote sustainable fisheries, including in the high seas.

Highlighting the Pacific region’s vulnerability to climate change, Leaders secured commitments from the Government of Japan for close cooperation in pursuing the adoption of an instrument with legal force at the international negotiations to be held on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Paris in December 2015. Japan also undertook to support Pacific countries’ efforts to ensure that the Post-2015 Development Agenda will address the special circumstances of Small Island Developing States.

Leaders briefed Prime Minister of Abe on the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, which was endorsed by Leaders in 2014, and obtained Japan’s in-principle commitment to support new regional initiatives generated by the Framework.

Prime Minister Abe announced a 55 billion yen package (approximately USD452 million) of development assistance to the Forum Island Countries over the next three years, which will focus on the areas of: disaster risk reduction; climate change; environment; people-to-people exchanges; sustainable development (including human resource development); oceans, maritime issues and fisheries; and trade, investment and tourism.

The PALM was first convened in 1997 to strengthen relations with the Forum and work jointly towards the development of the Pacific region. PALM meetings are held every 3 years. Two Ministerial Interim meetings have also been held to review the progress of commitments made by Japan and Forum Island Countries, the most recent of which was held in October 2013.

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