May 23, 2015

 Hon. Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva together with Pacific Leaders and representatives of Japan and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) members including Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu recently met in Iwaki-city, Fukushima, Japan on 22 and 23 May 2015, for the Seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7).

Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva told TNEWS he was there to express His appreciation to the Government of Japan for hosting PALM7 and acknowledged Japan’s continued efforts to advance sustainable development in Tonga and the Pacific region.

Pohiva acknowledged the efforts Japan had to strengthen international relationships and effective development cooperation in the Pacific.

The Leaders commended Fiji’s Prime Minister – Hon. Josaia Vorege Bainimarama, for successfully conducting the general election in September 2014 in a peaceful manner, and expressed high expectations for the steady consolidation of democracy in Fiji.

The Leaders welcomed and expressed their support for the new vision of Japan’s diplomacy toward the Pacific island countries, “A Beacon for Diplomacy toward the PICs”, announced by Prime Minister Abe on 23 May, 2015. Taking into account the important role played by the FICs in the international community, the Leaders committed themselves to working closely with Japan based on shared values and rule of law through interactive partnership with the aim of ensuring peace and prosperity in the Pacific region.

Recognising that many Pacific island countries do not have the economies of scale to undertake market promotion for their few products, the Leaders of the FICs expressed their desire for favourable market access for selected products from the region into the Japanese market. The Leaders appreciated the efforts by the Pacific Islands Centre to promote trade, investment and tourism between Japan and the Pacific region. In this connection, the Leaders appreciated the joint efforts by the Government of Japan and the Government of Tonga for organising the Japan-Tonga Trade and Investment Symposium held in Nukualofa, Tonga, on 18 June, 2014, in close cooperation with the Pacific Islands Centre, and welcomed a plan proposed by Japan of extending this initiative to others in the region with the cooperation of the Pacific Islands Centre and JETRO.

Recognising that consistent effort is necessary to address the national, sub-regional and regional priorities, the Leaders decided to enhance cooperation with a central focus on the following seven areas, taking into account the achievements from the PALM process:

(1) disaster risk reduction

(2) climate change

(3) environment

(4) people-to-people exchanges

(5) sustainable development (including human resource development)

(6) oceans, maritime issues and fisheries and,

(7) trade, investment and tourism.

Climate Change and Disaster risk:

The Leaders reaffirmed that climate change poses a continuing and urgent threat to the peoples of the Pacific and has negative effects on their efforts for achieving sustainable development, and acknowledged that urgent and concrete action is required. The Leaders expressed their concern that the Pacific region is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and enhanced impacts of natural hazards, and stressed that adaptation to climate change should be addressed as a matter of urgency. In this regard, Prime Minister Abe reiterated Japan’s “Adaptation Initiative” and expressed Japan’s intention to continue to assist adaptation efforts.

The Leaders welcomed Japan’s commitment to contribute USD1.5 billion toward the USD10.2 billion collectively committed by 33 countries as the initial resource mobilisation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Leaders stressed the need for the Fund to support special consideration to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to allow for improved access to the Fund and in so doing deliver practical and effective support for climate action in the Pacific region.

The Leaders decided to hold the third Ministerial Interim Meeting in 2016 in order to follow-up and evaluate the implementation of the key PALM7 outcomes, as well as to start the preparatory process for PALM8. The Leaders welcomed Japan’s proposal to suggest the timing and venue for PALM8 at the third Ministerial Interim Meeting.