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ANALYSIS: What’s On Palm8 Agenda

ANALYSIS: What’s On Palm8 Agenda
China's aircraft carrier Liaoningduring a new training mission. Japan is keen to use the PALM8 talks to promote its Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy (FOIP) in the South Pacific as a designed countermeasure to China’s growing ambitions in Asia. (Xinhua/Zeng Tao)
May 16
10:15 2018

The 8th Pacific Islands Lead­ers Meeting (PALM 8) will give Japan a chance to pro­mote its Free and Open Indo-Pa­cific Strategy (FOIP) in the South Pacific.

Foreign policy analysts believe the strategy, which is supported by American President Donald Trump, is a designed counter­measure to China’s perceived growing ambitions in Asia.

The PALM meeting will give Fiji and the Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) a rare chance to seek clari­fication from Japan’s president Shinzo Abe about their role in the strategy.

On May 18-19, Mr Abe will co-chair the meeting with Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Maliele­gaoi as Japan aims to build strong­er relationships in the region.

The Fijian delegation will be led by Prime Minister Voreqe Baini­marama and includes Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism and Lands Faiyaz Koya and his perma­nent secretary Shaheen Ali.

The Permanent Secretary in the Office of the PM, Yogesh Karan, is accompanying the delegation.

There are a few important areas up for discussion in Fukushima, Japan.

The issue of maritime security is expected to recur at the meeting, with academic Rieko Hayakawa recently highlighting the limits of PICs to police their Exclusive Eco­nomic Zones (EEZ).

“At this moment the large Pa­cific Ocean is a lawless space for all kinds of transnational crimes, such as human trafficking, illicit drug trade, illegal fishing, and ille­gal migration,” she wrote in May for the Japan Forward.

Part of the FOIP strategy are matters of sustainable fisheries and ocean conservation, two is­sues that have long been talked about in the South Pacific.

Pacific Island leaders will also look to strengthen the basis for sustainable development in the region, particularly in regard to climate change.

Japan’s Government, through its agency the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), has been investing in and promoting renewable energy projects in Fiji and the region.

Judging by Mr Bainimarama’s comments in Bonn, Germany, last week, there will be calls for a greater contribution.

“What I find troubling is the lack of awareness that is continu­ally emerging in opinion polls in developed countries,” he said at Dialogue on Action for Climate Change Empowerment.

“It is undoubtedly part of the rea­son that the political response in some places to the need for climate action isn’t as great as it should be.”

Connecting Pacific citizens with a focus on movement and people-to-people interaction will also be part of the talks at the summit.

Together with that, ways to fur­ther upgrade human resources in the region is also likely to feature prominently during the talks

The PICs will hope to further secure instruments, similar to JICA’s Pacific- Leaders’ Educa­tional Assistance for Development of State (LEADS) scholarship pro­grammes, to aid this endeavour.

New Caledonia and French Poly­nesia will be the new entrants in the meeting after the two French territories graciously accepted a Japanese Government invite.

The decision means a Franco­phone Pacific view will be given a seat at the table that has, since 1997, been a purely Anglophone Pacific space.

They will join Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Is­lands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and ministerial representation from Australia and New Zealand.

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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