PACIFIC ISLANDS SEMINAR, HOW BEST TO CULTIVATE SOLIDARITY BETWEEN JAPANAND THE PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRIES

admin's picture

PACIFIC ISLANDS SEMINAR Orizururei Room, Hotel New Otani, Tokyo, Japan

Remarks By

His Excellency Kuniwo Nakamura Former President Of The Republic Of Palau

HOW BEST TO CULTIVATE SOLIDARITY BETWEEN JAPAN AND THE PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRIES

February 9, 2001

I am privileged to address you again as we continue to address the practical aspects, the nuts and bolts, if you will, of the vital subject we have come here to consider. I stated in my remarks a few days ago in Osaka that this meeting promises to be an extremely important one. From the active participation we have seen in the panel discussions thus far, the meeting is keeping that promise.

I would like to renew my thanks to the Japan Institute for Pacific Studies for its efforts in organizing this very productive symposium and for its friendly yet efficient coordination of this conference. I also wish to acknowledge and thank both the Japan Institute for Pacific Studies and the Japan Institute for International Affairs for the gracious hospitality they have shown all the participants here in Tokyo. It is always heartwarming to receive such confirmation of the warm and friendly relations our nations enjoy.

As I stated in my remarks few days ago, for over half a century, the amity shared by Japan and the Pacific island nations developed organically, without design and simply as a function of historical goodwill and respect. This evolution was good, but, as the areas of mutual interest expanded and the degree of interest grew while at the same time the world became increasingly complex and interconnected, it became apparent that more "hands-on" guidance of the further development of the relationship was needed. And so the Pacific island countries, which I will occasionally refer to as

"PICs" for short, and Japan gathered together to assess their goals and needs with respect to the course their friendship would take in the future.

That first historic summit held in 1997 dealt almost exclusively with economic matters. Still, in spite of the narrow focus, it produced genuine benefits for Japan and the Pacific island nations and confirmed the value of such meetings and the effectiveness of coordinated and cooperative action which could result from such meetings.

After the positive results of the first Japan-PICs summit, the leaders of the Pacific island nations met with the Japanese government again last year at PALM 2000 in Miyazaki. There, we addressed a broader range of issues. In fact, virtually every area of concern for our respective governments was discussed at PALM 2000. Over the courses of that summit, we addressed a wide range of social, political, cultural, trade, environmental, and security issues in addition to economic concerns. Perhaps most importantly, at PALM 2000 we endorsed principles for increasing mutual support in international endeavors and further developing our relationship across several sectors. In implementing those principles, Japan has already raised a number of issues of concern to Forum members before an audience to which we had no direct access when it hosted last year's G8 Summit.

Japan also has specifically declared and demonstrated a willingness to seriously consider and assist in the development of the new mechanisms to address the concerns of Forum members, especially concerns regarding the environment.

Japan has vocally supported the view of many of our members that globalization, particularly as envisioned by the WTO regime, must be tempered with fairness if our economies are to have any chance of survival. This important conference is yet another positive result of the great successes of PALM 2000.

Of course, the most direct result of PALM 2000, the Miyazaki Initiative, has already proven to be of great value to all members of the Pacific Islands Forum as we continue to evolve in this dynamic new millennium. Working with the Forum Secretariat, Japan has already begun to implement the Miyazaki Initiative, having formally tendered to the Secretariat Japan's very generous funding support of one million U.S. dollars. The Japanese Government and the Secretariat are now working towards guidelines that will determine how those funds can best be used to strengthen cooperation between Japan and the Forum through various joint efforts and exchanges.

I am sure I speak for all members of the Forum when I say how grateful we are for Japan's friendship and its desire to see that friendship grow. At the same time, Japan and Forum members are continuing joint efforts before other organizations to increase awareness of and sensitivity to regional issues. And, as I noted in my prior remarks, the value of such labors cannot be overstated.

I confess that much of this is merely background, context for the main thrust of my discussion today. My point in dwelling on the successes of these past efforts is to illustrate just how vital high-level meetings have proven to be in the continued growth of the relationship between Japan and the Pacific island countries. This is hardly surprising. The more we know of one another, the more we identify with one another's concerns, the closer we become. And the best way to increase our knowledge of, and identification with, one another is through face-to-face meetings for frank and open discussions of our respective views, just like this conference. As a result of these meetings, we, as leaders of our respective societies, come to appreciate each other as individuals and not merely counterparts. Therefore, logically, one prime way to continue fostering the solidarity our nations are striving towards is to make such meetings more regular while at the same time continuing to expand their scope. Further, the range of participants should be expanded as well, for at least two reasons.

First, the demands on our leaders preclude regular meetings at the highest level.

Second, more levels of interaction means wider exposure to each other's interests, cultures, perspectives, and society in general, which naturally creates the potential for more interaction and a greater intertwining of peoples and governments- in other words, greater solidarity.

Of course, meetings and conferences can tend to be artificial environments. Therefore, in recognition of the need to truly know one another in order to create the unity of interests which solidarity implies, meetings and conferences should be supplemented, and perhaps eventually replaced, by joint ventures.

To date, it has been difficult to undertake projects in tandem because of the great disparity in human resources. The Pacific island countries simply lack many of the skilled individuals needed for the type of cooperative operations which would most benefit both PICs and Japan. That is why the capacity building aspects of the Miyazaki Initiative are so important to the future of our relationship: they hold the key to allowing new endeavors to go forward as true partnerships.

Therefore, to increase solidarity between the Pacific island nations and Japan, we should emphasize capacity building in the PICs and expand our joint ventures as quickly as possible in order to increase interaction on a practical, nuts and bolts level, outside of the various conferences and meetings. Further, capacity building should be broadly understood to include elements of scholarship (increasing the numbers of exchanges of educators and administrators among our nations in the course of continuing training and education for education professionals) and statesmanship (training for members of the foreign services of the PICs to ensure they can effectively advocate our joint interests before various fora), among others where Pacific island nations lack expertise, as well as the more commonly understood technical areas.

There is a second point I would like to make which follows from the first. In order to truly build solidarity, the expansion of contacts must occur in the private sector as well as the public. We all recognize the need for the developing island nations to work towards improving their economies through greater emphasis on the private sector. As we expand the private sector, that is where new opportunities for increased solidarity will arise. To ensure that we are ready to exploit those opportunities, it is vital that we begin now to strengthen ties between Japan's private sector and the private sectors of the Pacific island countries. Trans-border investments, partnerships, joint ventures and business start-ups should be encouraged. Bi-directional trade should be improved. We should not hesitate to be creative in fashioning new mechanisms for cross-border synergies which will draw our respective private sectors together. In short, we should at all times recall that the more points of contact the better as we try to build solidarity between Japan and the Pacific island countries.

These are the basic ideas which I believe should guide us as we continue to strengthen and expand the already close ties we share. I recognize that they are fairly general suggestions. However, I also know that we have consistently progressed best when we start from broad principles and then begin to flesh those principles out through specific programs and initiatives. I hope that this instance will prove to be no exception to that rule. In any event, I appreciate the opportunity to share my views on this important topic and look forward to the dialogue I hope will follow from my comments.

Thank you for your attention.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment