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Pacific cements ties with Japan to strengthen Asia-Pacific relations

                                                                                 

January 25 (Suva) – Representatives of Pacific Islands Forum countries and the Government of Japan ended the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) Third Ministerial Interim Meeting (MIM3) in Tokyo, last week with renewed recognition of the leaders’ ownership of regional development.

The meeting wasattended by representatives from Japan and 16 Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) member countries; it was co-chaired by H.E. Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Hon. Mr. Lorin Robert, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Federated States of Micronesia, as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.

“The meeting was an opportunity for renewed commitments by the Government of Japan and Forum Members, to their cooperative relationship,” said Secretary Robert.

“We agreed that the goal to achieve self-sufficient and sustainable development will include further efforts to address environmental challenges including climate change and deeper engagement to facilitate more robust trade and investment relations in the region.”

The Ministers reiterated the critical importance of integrated approaches to sustainable development, management and conservation of marine resources and the marine environment, as member countries utilized fishery resources for economic development.

Free and open maritime order and cooperation in the international fora were also discussed.

Forum members reiterated their support for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for Japan to better represent today’s global geopolitics shifts’, and sought Japan’s support to work with international financing institutions for a redefinition of the term “fragility,” consistent with the 47th Forum Leaders Decisions.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue cooperation towards the universal implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development; and the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) Pathway. The Government of Japan also recognised Smaller Islands States (SIS) Regional Strategy 2016-2020.

Additionally, the Ministers agreed on the importance of continuing to explore new fields of cooperation particularly in the areas of disability and sports, considering the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and other major international sporting events hosted by Forum Island countries.

Reporting against commitments made at PALM 7, Minister Kishida informed Ministers that to date, Japan has contributed approximately 61 billion JPY (USD500 million) in development assistance and 3200 people were involved in the people-to-people exchange (under programs like “Pacific-LEADS” and JENESYS); the people-to-people exchanges will continue in various fields including disaster risk reduction, climate change, environment, trade, investment, tourism and marine resources.

Japan announced PALM 8 plans, now scheduled for 18-19 May 2018 in Fukushima, Japan.

The MIM3 talks coincided with Japan Prime Minister Abe’s series of high-level talks with Pacific Rim countries (Australia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam) this week as an effort to return the new US Administration’s focus to the Asia-Pacific. 

The triennial PALM was initiated by Japan in 1997 to strengthen relations with Forum Island Countries and work jointly towards the development of the Pacific region. 

The Pacific Island Forum - Japan partnership is underpinned by long-established historical, economic, trade and diplomatic links. The relationship reflects a shared commitment to build economic resilience for Forum Island Countries through addressing the impact of climate change, sustainable environment development and disaster risk reduction.

Japan has been a Post-Forum Dialogue partner since 1989. Since PALM7 in May 2015 political commitments have facilitated Japan’s successful candidacy bid for a 2017-2017 non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council and the global observance of World Tsunami Day (November 5) which began in 2016.

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