PM Bain­i­marama says the ex­cel­lent PALM8 host is a pos­i­tive force in the Pa­cific re­gion

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - SHEL­DON CHANEL

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.

Photo: DEPTFO News

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.

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