FIJI TO WORK WITH JAPAN
PM Bainimarama says the excellent PALM8 host is a positive force in the Pacific region
Fiji is ready to work with Japan to help adapt its economy to the worsening impacts of climate change, says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Mr Bainimarama made the remarks in Tokyo after meeting his
Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, in bilateral discussions before the 8th Japan-Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting, known as PALM8. Japan's Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy was part of discussions during the meeting.
“Japan is a positive force in the Pacific region and we Fijians and our Pacific neighbours share many economic, security, environmental and political interests with Japan,” Mr Bainimarama said after the closed-door meeting.
“I commend Japan for its efforts to help the nations of the Pacific region reduce our vulnerabilities and for its long-term commitment under the framework of the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting to help us meet our collective regional development priorities.
“In our meeting today, Prime Minister Abe and I discussed Japan's Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy and the opportunities it can offer to the Pacific.
“We agreed to co-operate and consult closely on the important issues that affect our region and the world.”
Mr Bainimarama said: “We cannot accomplish all that we want without sitting down together in open and honest discussion. “I want to thank the Government and people of Japan for the excellent arrangements for this meeting and the warm hospitality provided to me and my delegation since our arrival in your great country.”
Japan will host the 2020 Paralympics and Olympic Games. It will also host the Rugby World Cup next year.
It was revealed in an informal side meeting yesterday that students from the PALM countries will be invited to attend the games.
The Governor of Saga Prefecture, Yoshinori Yamaguchi, said in Tokyo that Japan wanted to open itself to the world and show how the country's progressed since the devastating earthquake in 2011.
It is for this same reason PALM8 would be held in Fukushima, one of the areas that suffered massive devastation in the wake of the 2011 tsunami.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, initiated primarily by the tsunami after the Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011.
There were three nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen-air explosions, and the release of radioactive material from March 12 to 15. Leaders will get a chance to visit Onahama Port in Fukushima and witness first-hand the resumption of fisheries activities since the disaster.
A memorial event for the victims of the disaster will serve as a prelude for the meeting, which starts today.
Mr Bainimarama was the second Pacific Island country leader Mr Abe met personally before his meeting with other regional leaders begins today.
Mr Abe is lobbying Fiji and Pacific Islands for support, seeking to apply pressure on North Korea and denuclearisation and the release of Japanese prisoners.
But so far it is unclear whether the Pacific will have a unified stance to support the sanctions.
Mr Bainimarama said the two countries had “agreed to co-operate and consult closely on the important issues that affect our region and the world”.
However, there was no specific mention of North Korea.
Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who will co-chair PALM8 with Mr Abe, also did not mention North Korea after his meeting with the Japanese leader on Tuesday.
Mr Bainimarama and Mr Abe inspected a military guard of honour and greeted each other warmly at the meeting.
It was a sign of how far relations between the two countries have come since Fiji's non-inclusion in PALM 6.
Mr Bainimarama and his wife, Mary, were hosted by Mr Abe and his spouse, Akie.
Japan's interest in the South Pacific has been increasing.
It has coincided with China's growing investment and development assistance in the region.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his wife Mary with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie in Tokyo on May 17, 2018.