The PALM Ministerial Interim Meeting
(Overview and Outcome)
1. Summary of the Meeting
The PALM Ministerial Interim Meeting, as the first endeavor, was held at Iikura Guest House on 16th October, 2010. The Meeting was chaired by Mr. Seiji Maehara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and was attended by The Hon. Edward Nipake Natapei, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu (Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)) ,and ministerial level representatives including Deputy Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers from 16 PIF member countries and regions.
(2)Overview of Discussions
The Meeting discussed the follow-up of the outcomes of the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders meeting (PALM 5) as well as preparation for PALM 6 which will be held in Okinawa in May 2012.
After the Meeting, Foreign Minister Maehara issued the Chair’s summary and held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Natapei.
2. Summary of Each Session
(1)Session 1: Overview of the current relationships between Japan and Pacific island countries and the follow-up of the PALM 5
(i) Japan’s diplomacy toward Pacific island countries
Foreign Minister Maehara explained Japan’s basic policy on diplomacy toward Pacific island countries and that Japan places importance on relationships with Pacific countries based on the equal partnership.
(ii) Achievement status of Japan’s assistance pledged at PALM 5
Foreign Minister Maehara reported that Japan has already provided assistance amounting to approximately 32.3 billion yen out of 50 billion yen pledged at PALM 5. Parliamentary Vice-Minister Kikuta explained further details of the provided assistance. Pacific island countries appreciated the fact that Japan’s assistance has been steadily implemented.
(iii) Future assistance to Pacific island countries
Prime Minister Natapei explained the efforts of Pacific island countries for their development and called for Japan’s assistance to be further transparent, flexible and expeditious. Foreign Minister Maehara responded that Japan would like to assist the self-help efforts of Pacific island countries in a more transparent, flexible and expeditious manner.
(2)Session 2: Issues to be discussed toward PALM 6 in 2012
(i) Venue and Date for the next PALM (PALM 6)
Foreign Minister Maehara announced that the next PALM (PALM 6)would be held in Nago, Okinawa on 25th and 26th May in 2012 and Pacific island countries agreed on this venue and date.
(ii) Issues to be discussed toward PALM 6
Foreign Minister Maehara explained the following as priority issues for the next PALM;
- Reinvigorating political-level visits from Japan to Pacific island countries
- Continued assistance with a focus on the most aid effective areas
- Enhancing the invitation programme for young people from Pacific island countries aimed at further strengthening people-to-people exchanges from a medium-to-long-term perspective.
- Further cooperation in the area of climate change
Pacific island countries welcomed such efforts by Japan and several representatives expressed their hope especially to reinvigorate political level visit and to further enhance the invitation programme including expanding eligibility for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme to Pacific island countries.
Session 3: Important issues in the international arena (Working lunch)
Both sides discussed issues including climate change, UN reform, freedom of navigation and democratization in Fiji. Pacific island countries especially agreed to enhance their cooperation in the area of climate change given that Pacific island countries are vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change.
(1)Invigoration of the process of PALM
The PALM Ministerial Interim Meeting was held as the first endeavor. A new framework was launched to further effectively utilize the interval of three years between PALMs to strengthen relations between Japan and Pacific island countries.
(2)The follow-up of the PALM 5
The Meeting was meaningful in that it had in-depth discussions on the forms of assistance to Pacific island countries in the future. Furthermore, the Meeting was highly appreciated by Pacific island countries as the Japanese side reviewed its assistance after the PALM 5.
(3)The medium-to-long term measures for PALM 6
The Meeting deepened discussions on new measures to further strengthen relations between Japan and Pacific island countries and proceeded with preparation for the next summit. These discussions were, partly, based on the proposals, which was submitted by intellectuals on the occasion of the symposium hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs one month prior to the PALM Ministerial Interim Meeting.
(4)Strengthening bilateral relations with Pacific island countries
The Meeting took place with high-level attendance from 16 PIF member countries and regions (including 1 Prime Minister, 3 Deputy Prime Ministers, 6 Foreign Ministers, 4 other Ministers). Bilateral relations with Pacific island countries were strengthened through the following events which took place on the occasion of the Meeting;
-Courtesy call on Prime Minister by all representatives
-2 bilateral meetings by Foreign Minister Maehara (Vanuatu and Fiji)
- Dinner for the representatives from Vanuatu hosted by Mr. Banno, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
- 9 bilateral meetings and one luncheon for 5 countries and regions hosted by Ms. Kikuta, Parliamentary Vice-Minister