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PM Gets Big Japan Boost

  Japan last night rolled out a warm welcome for Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, underscoring Japanese efforts to rebuild strong ties with Fiji. Mr Bainimarama met with the Japanese Prime
20 May 2015 11:01
PM Gets Big Japan Boost
Welcome to the Land of the Rising Sun ... Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right) greets his Fijian counterpart Voreqe Bainimarama in Tokyo last night. Mr Bainimarama is in Japan for the Pacific Islands Alliance Leaders Meeting (PALM 7). Photo: Jyoti Pratibha

 

Japan last night rolled out a warm welcome for Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, underscoring Japanese efforts to rebuild strong ties with Fiji.

Mr Bainimarama met with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mr Abe’s office in Tokyo.

Significantly, while heads of all other Pacific Islands countries are in Japan for this week’s Japan-PALM Summit, Mr Abe met first with Mr Bainimarama.

Mr Bainimarama and the Fijian delegation were hosted to dinner last night by Mr Abe at his residence. This was designed to pave the path for yet further warming of relations.

Mr Bainimarama told Mr Abe: “As you know, I was excluded from the previous PALM gathering, something that Fiji regarded as deeply regrettable.”

Mr Bainimarama stressed: “I would ask that Japan deal with Fiji in a more open and direct manner – and with a greater appreciation of our own position – rather than to take advice from third parties about the relationship.

“We seek the closest possible ties with Japan on a one to one basis and are very pleased by the renewed warmth that now characterises our relationship.”

Mr Bainimarama also extended an invitation to Mr Abe to visit Fiji “as soon as practicable.”

He also sought some of the preferential access currently being afforded to Australian products to be extended to Fiji. For the Nadi River Realignment project – which already has some Japanese Government support, Mr Bainimarama asked that the project be fast tracked as it is a public utility project.

A reciprocal Visa Free Arrangement with Japan is likely to materialise soon.

Mr Bainimarama said: “A similar agreement with Japan would be a critical factor in expanding our people-to-people exchanges and boosting levels of tourism and trade.”

Relations had been damaged when Japan – apparently bowing to Australian pressure – did not invite Mr Bainimarama to the previous PALM Summit three years ago. This came after indications that Mr Bainimarama would be invited. Japanese sources said Mr Abe would be stressing that all cooperation between the countries, including aid, would fully resume.

Fijian Ambassador to Japan Isikeli Mataitoga had earlier told the Fiji Sun that Fiji is attending PALM on its own terms. Fiji was not interested in seeking a mere donor relationship with Japan.

He said that Fiji was seeking equality and partnership. PALM is the Japan-Pacific Alliance Leaders Meeting hosted by the Japanese Prime Minister every three years.

PALM this week will focus on climate change and environment, two issues Mr Bainimarama has led Pacific Islands advocacy on.

The summit will discuss how the Green Fund which has been set aside to assist nations affected by climate change can be utilised.

It will also focus on response to natural disasters, sustainable development based on human security, people-to- people exchanges and maritime issues.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 




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