Japan makes Pacific move

Japan has reaffirmed its solidarity and unwavering support to Fiji for the advancement of regional prosperity, Fiji’s national priorities and free and open Indo-Pacific.

In a surge of visits from the world’s leading nations to the Pacific, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hayashi Yoshimasa, made his first ever visit to Fiji.

Japan and China have been rivals and it is only natural that Japan would try and increase its presence in the region.

This was marked by a bilateral meeting convened Saturday between Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Mr Yoshimasa.

There is no doubt that nations are now making geostrategic moves after the assumptions of what China would do in the Pacific.

Instead of the meeting being held at the Office of the Prime Minister, the high level discussions took place at the Grand Pacific Hotel.

Mr Bainimarama formally welcomed Mr Yoshimasa on his first official visit to Fiji and said that this visit demonstrated Fiji and Japan’s strong historical ties and relations.

Discussions between Japanese and Fijian officials in Suva. Picture: Fiji Government.

Mr Bainimarama commended Japan for its continuous support to Fiji’s national development priorities and scope of partnership, which over the years, has extended to important areas including climate change, disaster risk management, and COVID-19 response efforts.

He acknowledged Japan’s assistance to Fiji in times of great need, especially support in the timely provision of Personal Protective Equipment, life-saving medical equipment, and contribution to the COVAX Facility, which helped with the vaccination campaign rollout and ultimately, the reopening of Fiji’s international borders and our economic recovery.

Perspectives on the potential opportunities for increased collaboration in the areas of commerce, tourism, trade, education, health, security, disaster management, rural development, and infrastructure were also discussed at the meeting.

The significance of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and Japan’s engagement with the Pacific was also discussed at the meeting.

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Mr Bainimarama commended the Japanese Government for its continued commitment towards the Japan-Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM-9) and Japan’s aspirations to enhance relations with Pacific Island countries through dialogue on a number of initiatives under their regional assistance programme.

Additionally, Mr Bainimarama said Fiji looked forward to the next PALM meeting to renew and strengthen this important and enduring partnership, and to achieve common vision of peace and prosperity for the Pacific region.

In response, Mr Yoshimasa commended Mr Bainimarama for his exemplary leadership and commitment to the advancement of shared aspirations for global and regional peace and prosperity.

Japan Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Fiji PM Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: Fiji Government

He said that his visit to Fiji demonstrated enduring friendship and cooperation that continued to strengthen over the years.

Mr Yoshimasa said Fiji was an important development partner and Japan attaches great importance to the bilateral relations with Fiji, with mutual cooperation for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

He said Japan would continue to cooperate with Fiji to further strengthen collaboration between the two nations.

He indicated more visits in the future.

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