Marshall Islands President Calls for Enhanced Global Dialogue; Hopes for Japan’s Mediating Role

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine speaks in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine stressed the importance of dialogue between developed countries and the emerging and developing countries collectively known as the Global South in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun. The president also expressed her hope that Japan will serve as a bridge between the two parties.

Heine emphasized that communication between the Global South and developed nations must be further promoted and become more active in the interview held in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Japan will host the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting in Tokyo in July, which will bring together leaders from Japan and 19 countries and regions, including Pacific Island nations. Heine said that she expects Japan to facilitate listening to the voices of the Global South.

Referring to China’s growing presence in Pacific Island nations, including the Marshall Islands, she suggested that “China’s influence in the Pacific will continue to grow … the competition between the two superpowers [the United States and China] continues to grow in the Pacific.”

Heine added, “We don’t want anyone to dictate to us” and claimed, “We believe in peace and freedom and the rule of law. We will align ourselves with countries that stand for the same principles.”

Regarding the discharge of treated water into the ocean at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, Heine said, “We hope that the Japanese government will continue to maintain a very strong monitoring of the treated water so that our Pacific Ocean is not contaminated. That’s what we hope that Japan will do.”

Heine cited climate change as the most pressing issue.

Heine, 72, whose career includes stints as a high school teacher and education minister, is visiting Japan to attend the Tokyo Conference 2024, which is being held in Tokyo from Wednesday to Friday and is hosted by Genron NPO and sponsored by The Yomiuri Shimbun. Heine will deliver a keynote speech at a public forum at the event on Thursday.