• Politics & Government

Japan, Pacific Island Nations Agree to Boost Cooperation; Statement Expresses Opposition to Unilateral Attempts to Change Status Quo

Shinsuke Uemura / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, left, and the Cook Islands’ Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Tingika Elikana hold a press conference in Suva on Monday.

SUVA — Ministers from Japan and Pacific island countries and regions adopted a Chairs’ Summary on Monday that pledged to strengthen cooperation in the region, at the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting in Fiji’s capital of Suva.

With China’s increasingly hegemonic behavior in mind, the ministers “expressed strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo” and declared they would strengthen cooperation “to better address the evolving opportunities and challenges of the region.”

The meeting, attended by 17 countries and regions, was cochaired by Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and the Cook Islands’ Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Tingika Elikana.

The Chairs’ Summary emphasized that “upholding the international rules-based order … is becoming more important now than ever for global peace and stability.”

Amid Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the summary stated, “The Ministers opposed any war of aggression and committed to seeking a permanent and sustainable peace.”

Regarding the release of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean, the summary noted the International Atomic Energy Agency’s comprehensive report published last July that described the release as being “consistent with relevant international safety standards.” The ministers then “concurred on the importance of being based on scientific evidence in this matter.”

The ministers also confirmed that the treated water issue would be a “standing agenda item” of the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting.

“We were able to confirm our shared values and principles,” Kamikawa told reporters after the meeting.

However, of the countries and regions in attendance, only six, including Palau, sent their foreign ministers. Some may have taken into consideration China’s growing influence in the region.

Building on the outcome of the meeting, Japan plans to host a Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting in Tokyo in July.