Japan pledges $500m for Pacific islands

Japan pledged aid worth up to half a billion dollars to Pacific island nations Saturday at a summit stressing the importance of maritime law in a region warily eyeing China's growing might at sea.

At the close of a two-day meeting on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, leaders from 16 nations and one territory produced a joint declaration emphasising the need for international rules to be obeyed on the oceans.

"The leaders acknowledged the importance of promoting maritime cooperation, in such areas as marine environment, maritime security, maritime safety... to promote economic growth and to improve livelihoods and food security," the declaration said.

The pronouncement from the summit, which groups Pacific island nations alongside Australia, New Zealand and Japan, comes as China grows ever more assertive of its claims on areas of sea far from its mainland coast.

Beijing is currently involved in an increasingly bitter stand-off with Manila over a shoal off the Philippines' western seaboard, which has impacted trade ties and iced relations.

Japan has also clashed with China over disputed outcrops, notably the strategically coveted Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls Diaoyu, known to harbour rich fishing grounds and believed to sit atop valuable mineral beds.

In a forum Japan views as an important plank of its soft-power strategy, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Tokyo would be funding an insurance programme aimed at helping Pacific island countries deal with natural disasters.

In concert with the World Bank, the scheme is intended to provide short-term liquidity to governments in the event of a catastrophe like the earthquake-tsunami that hit northeast Japan in March 2011.

In addition to the insurance scheme, which has a reported price tag of $5.7 million, Tokyo will also look to give up to half a billion dollars in aid to Pacific Island countries.

"Our fiscal situation is tight due to the disaster," Noda told a press conference. "However, we will not be inward-looking but seek to be a country that will continue to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world."

The $500 million, to be served up over the coming 36 months, mirrors the figure Tokyo gave the region over the previous three years. Details of what the money would fund were not immediately available.

The summit, the sixth of its kind since 1997, is one prong of Tokyo's charm offensive to garner support in its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Fiji, a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, skipped this year's summit, the Kyodo News agency reported. Japan last week said it had not invited Fijian strongman Voreqe Bainimarama amid concerns his moves towards restoring democracy have not gone far enough.

Had Bainimarama attended the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) in Japan, it would have signalled the isolated regime leader's first major opportunity to return to the international community after years of ostracism.

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Ayungin dilemma Ramon Casiple - Parallaxis
    Ayungin dilemma

    China faces a dilemma in Ayungin Shoal and other contested areas. If it waits for the ITLOS—which may decide against it—it would have tacitly bound itself to UNCLOS and risk a rogue state reputation if it asserts its claim in the South China Sea. If its militarily acts now, it may face international isolation. …

  • 48 nabbed in biggest anti-trafficking catch in Bongao VERA Files - The Inbox
    48 nabbed in biggest anti-trafficking catch in Bongao

    By Jake Soriano, VERA Files Bongao, Tawi-tawi—A team of Marines and policemen intercepted around noon Thursday 48 people, 12 of them minors, believed recruited by a human trafficking syndicate for work in Malaysia. The arrest constitutes what advocates called the … Continue reading → …

  • Docs vow to pay right taxes, make peace with BIR VERA Files - The Inbox
    Docs vow to pay right taxes, make peace with BIR

    By Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena, VERA Files Leaders of the medical profession have made peace with their former adversary, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and joined forces in a campaign to get doctors to pay the right taxes. BIR Commissioner … Continue reading → …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options