Courtesy Call on Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs BROWN of the Cook Islands by Foreign Minister Hayashi
March 21, 2023
On March 20, commencing at 11:00 a.m. (local time; 6:00 a.m. on March 21 JST) for approximately 50 minutes, Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan who was visiting the Cook Islands, paid a courtesy call on Hon. Mr. Mark Brown, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cook Islands. The overview of the meeting is as follows.
- At the outset, following the welcoming remarks from Prime Minister Brown Minister Hayashi stated that he was pleased to be the first Japanese Foreign Minister to visit the Cook Islands. The two sides concurred to further strengthen bilateral relations between Japan and the Cook Islands and cooperation with the Pacific Islands region.
- Minister Hayashi stated that he would like to invite Prime Minister Brown, the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), to the Outreach Meeting at the G7 Hiroshima Summit this May, and that he sincerely welcomes the participation of the Cook Islands as a partner in promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Prime Minister Brown stated that he was honored and grateful for the invitation and that he would like to contribute positively to the discussion.
- Minister Hayashi stated that for more than 20 years, Japan has supported Pacific Island countries, including the Cook Islands, to address various challenges through the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) process and explained cooperation such as strengthening of the health and medical system and assistance for the water and sewerage infrastructure. Prime Minister Brown expressed his appreciation for Japan's support including at grassroots level in various areas such as firefighting capabilities, in addition to the cooperation that Minister Hayashi mentioned.
- Minister Hayashi explained that under the most severe and complex security environment surrounding Japan in the postwar era, Japan formulated a new National Security Strategy at the end of last year to fundamentally strengthen its defense capabilities and enhance support in the field of climate change, cooperating with developing countries including Pacific Island countries. Prime Minister Brown stated that climate change is the greatest threat to the region, and appreciated Japan's efforts.
- Minister Hayashi stated that Japan would promote a wide range of transparent and inclusive cooperation with Pacific Island countries through a New Plan for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” that Prime Minister Kishida has just announced, toward the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and the two sides confirmed further strengthening of cooperation.
- The two sides discussed the situation in Pacific Island countries. Minister Hayashi wished Prime Minister Brown and the PIF a success as he assumed the PIF's Chair this February, and pointed out that the unity of the region was getting more and more important in the midst of major changes in the regional situation. In this regard, Minister Hayashi welcomed that Kiribati rejoined to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) last month and expressed his strong support for the PIF's "the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.” Minister Hayashi also stated that Japan would continue to cooperate with Pacific Island countries, making use of Japan’s strength, and respecting their agenda.
- The two sides exchanged views on the discharge of ALPS treated water. Minister Hayashi stated that Japan would never allow the discharges unless they are not confirmed to be safe, and stated that based on the visit of Prime Minister Brown and other PIF delegates to Japan this February and the PIF Special Leaders Retreat, he would like to enhance intensive dialogue with Pacific Island countries and continue to work with Prime Minister Brown. On this occasion, Minister Hayashi handed over to Prime Minister Brown a letter from Prime Minister Kishida showing Japan’s position on strengthening bilateral relationship and the discharge of ALPS treated water. In response, Prime Minister Brown expressed his appreciation for hosting the PIF delegation this February, and stated that he had firmly shared the assurances of safety from Prime Minister Kishida and Minister Hayashi with the leaders of the PIF, and that he appreciated that Japan has been stepping up its efforts. Prime Minister Brown also expressed his desire for continual cooperation.
- The two sides also exchanged views on the situation in the East and South China Seas, the situation in Ukraine, and dealing with North Korea including on the nuclear and missile issues as well as the abductions issue, and concurred to work closely together.
- The two sides confirmed their cooperation at the Ministerial Interim Meeting of PALM to be held this year toward the PALM 10 to be held next year.