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.

Loading...

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.

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. Cuisia recently met with Filipino communities in San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

  • Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea
    Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top diplomat said Thursday that China has been rushing construction projects, including massive land reclamation, in the disputed South China Sea in hopes of forestalling any legal moves against its vast territorial claims. …

  • Aquino takes responsibility for bungled mission in Philippines, but no apology
    Aquino takes responsibility for bungled mission in Philippines, but no apology

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday took responsibility for a bungled security operation in January that left 44 police commandos dead, but offered no public apology for the clash that has become his biggest political crisis in years. Since the secret mission, Aquino's approval and trust ratings have plunged to their lowest level in five years, and a peace process with the country's largest Muslim rebel group has stalled. "To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt …

  • Marshall rolls out new headphone, speaker lines in PHL

    Established music brand Marshall is rolling out new headphone and speaker lines in the Philippine market. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options