Pacific Island leaders gathered in Japan this weekend on 26 October, 2013 to review the progress of commitments made by Japan and Pacific Island Forum leaders at their Sixth Pacific Island leaders and Japan meeting (PALM 6) held in May 2012.
This is the second time that an interim Ministerial arrangement has been held in between the PALM proper that is scheduled every 3 years. This interim meeting reviewed, in particular, the Joint Declaration made at the 6th PALM meeting in 2012 and commitments therein, discussed possible topics for PALM 7, and considered trade and investment opportunities between Japan and the region.
Japan is a significant development partner to the region and in addition to strong bilateral relations with members they have had an ongoing collective relationship with Forum members, in particular Forum Island Countries, facilitated through the PALM arrangement which is supported by the Secretariat.
Some highlights from the meeting, and as captured in the Chairs’ Summary, include amongst others:
Ministers reaffirmation of the importance of promoting coordination between the Pacific Islands Forum and the PALM process to further enhance cooperation for the Pacific region, including Japan’s significantly deeper and wider engagement with the Forum as an Island Country sharing the Pacific Ocean;
As reported by Japan’, implementation of its commitments made at PALM 6 mainly in the areas of (1) response to natural disasters, (2) environment and climate change, (3) sustainable development and human security amounting to approximately 445 million US dollars out of 500 million US dollars committed at PALM 6;
As encouraged by Pacific Ministers, Japan agreed to seriously and earnestly consider signing up to the “Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership” agreed by Forum Leaders at their meeting in Majuro, Marshall Islands in September.
Considerable focus on the value of the Pacific Ocean to their livelihood, food security, sustainable development and security focus, including the importance of maximizing and securing the long-term flow of benefits from the region’s fisheries resources through enhanced participation of Forum Island Countries (FICs) in the industry;
Efforts to strengthen climate change and disaster risk reduction capacities in the region;
The crucial importance of promoting trade and investment in the region as an indispensable basis for Pacific Island Countries’ economic growth and vitality;
Japan’s support towards the development of high quality infrastructure, especially to secure transport links to promote tourism in the region;
Ministers discussed security matters of importance to Japan, PICs and the global community and called for timely and peaceful means to address these issues;
Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the security of the Pacific Ocean from all forms of contamination and undertook to sharing information on the monitoring of any potential threat in relation to this; and,
Japan announced that the next PALM (PALM 7) would be held in Iwaki City on 22 May in 2015 in the name of “Iwaki Pacific Islands Summit 2015”, and the Ministers agreed on this venue and date;
The PALM meeting was initiated by Japan in 1997 to strengthen relations with Pacific Island Forum countries and work strongly towards the development of the Pacific Region.