The Ninth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM9) (Overview of Results)
(1) The Ninth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM9) was held with Mr. SUGA Yoshihide, Prime Minister of Japan, and Mr. Hon. Kausea NATANO, Prime Minister of Tuvalu as the co-chairs via video conference on July 2nd. The leaders and representatives of 19 countries and regions (the PALM Leaders) participated, including Japan, 14 island countries (Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu), Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and French Polynesia.
(2) PALM9 discussions centered on the five priority areas for the next three years: (1) COVID-19 Response and Recovery, (2) Sustainable Oceans based on the Rule of Law, (3) Climate Change and Disaster Resilience, (4) Strengthening Foundation for Sustainable and Resilient Economic Development, and (5) People-to-People Exchanges and Human Resource Development. "The Ninth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM9) Leaders Declaration" (PDF), and annexed documents "Factsheet – Japan’s support since the 8th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM8)"(PDF) and "Joint Action Plan for Strengthening Pacific Bonds and for Mutual Prosperity"(PDF) were adopted as an outcome of the discussions.
(3) The key points of PALM9 are as follows:
- Prime Minister Suga announced Japan’s Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy, which would further strengthen the cooperation between Japan and Pacific Island countries, and Pacific Island countries welcomed his announcement. As Japan works toward realizing a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Japan has been strengthening its efforts toward Pacific Island countries though “All Japan” approach such as through establishing the Interagency Committee for Promoting Cooperation with Pacific Island Countries in 2019, and Japan launched such strengthened “All Japan” efforts as Japan’s Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy. The Leaders endorsed the Joint Action Plan as an annex of the PALM9 Leaders Declaration. The Joint Action Plan details concrete activities in the five priority areas, which will be undertaken over the next three years, under Japan’s Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy.
- Prime Minister Suga announced that Japan intends to provide Pacific Island countries with a total of approximately 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to FICs by around the end of the year including through the COVAX Facility after the middle of July 2021, as well as with cold chain equipment and medical capabilities development for vaccination.
- Prime Minister Suga stated that Japan was taking all possible infection control measures in preparation for hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner. He also expressed his hope that all the athletes from Pacific Island countries would give their best performance at the Games. The PALM Leaders expressed their support for the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The PALM Leaders reconfirmed the coordination toward the response to North Korea including abduction issues, among other matters. Furthermore, Prime Minister Suga expressed his gratitude for continuous support from Pacific Island countries regarding Japan's admission as a permanent member in the United Nations Security Council.
2 Overview of Each Session
(2) Session 1 (PALM partnership and Regional vision)
- Prime Minister Suga explained that Japan would promote cooperation on five priority areas through "All-Japan" effort under the Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy, while considering the discussion in PALM9 and utilizing Japan's strengths. He also committed to the continuation of the robust development assistance as well as people-to-people exchanges and human resource development of more than 5,500 people in the next three years.
- The Leaders of Pacific Island countries stated that they greatly appreciate the role that PALM has played so far. They expressed strong support for the new commitments regarding five priority areas over the next three years.
(3) Session 2 (PALM9 priority 5 areas)
- COVID-19 Response and Recovery
Prime Minister Suga stated that the impact of COVID-19 on the health care system and socio-economics is an enormous, medium- to long-term issue even in Pacific Island countries. Prime Minister Suga expressed his awareness of the immeasurable impact on the tourism industry. Prime Minister Suga stated that he would provide support for strengthening the health care systems, for addressing lifestyle-related diseases, and for medium- to long-term economic recovery in the post COVID-19, while further providing support for cold chain equipment and medical capacity development for vaccination. In this context, Prime Minister Suga announced provision of vaccines. (See above 1(3)B for the detail)
Pacific Island countries expressed their gratitude for Japan's comprehensive support to address COVID-19 and for the announce of its intent to provide vaccines with them.
- Sustainable Oceans based on the Rule of Law
Prime Minister Suga stated that a free, open, and sustainable oceans based on the rule of law is important for regional peace and stability. He stated that Japan would cooperate in the field of marine security, marine environment and marine resources including fishery resource.
Pacific island countries emphasized the importance of complying with international law (including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and implementing maritime zone management in the Exclusive Economic Zones to ensure sustainable management of marine resources.
Regarding Japan’s basic policy related to the discharge of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings’ Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Prime Minister Suga explained that the discharge of the ALPS treated water would be conducted in compliance with regulatory requirements considering international standards, and that Japan would continue to provide explanations based on scientific evidence in close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Leaders of Pacific Island countries expressed their gratitude for the transparent and detailed explanation by Prime Minister Suga, and welcomed Japan’s intent of continuing close dialogue with Pacific Island countries.
- Climate Change and Disaster Resilience
Prime Minister Suga stated that he declared "2050 carbon neutral" in October last year and that Japan would seek for an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 46% by fiscal year 2030 (compared to fiscal year 2013), which is consistent with “2050 carbon neutral”. Pacific Island countries welcomed his announcement and called for further efforts to address climate change, which is considered the single largest threat for Pacific Island countries. Pacific Island countries emphasized the importance of continuous support for addressing vulnerabilities against natural disasters.
- Strengthening Foundation for Sustainable and Resilient Economic Development
Prime Minister Suga stated the importance of connectivity through high-quality infrastructure in the Pacific region towards realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and that Japan would promote quality infrastructure forward the improvement of ports, airports, roads,
communication infrastructure in Pacific Island countries, placing importance on openness, transparency, economic efficiency and debt sustainability.
Pacific Island countries expressed their gratitude for the quality infrastructure development projects by Japan. They stated that further infrastructure development would be necessary to expand investment and trade for enhancing the economic resilience.
- People-to-People Exchanges and Human Resource Development
Prime Minister Suga emphasized that people-to-people exchanges between Japan and Pacific Island countries are the foundation of their KIZUNA (Bond), and that human resource development, including technical cooperation and training projects, is indispensable for the sustainable development of Pacific Island countries. Prime Minister Suga also underlined that such cooperation is Japan’s strength. Under the Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy, Japan announced to promote people-to-people exchanges and human resource development for over 5,500 people at various levels and in various fields over the next three years.
Pacific Island countries welcomed Japan’s commitment for human resource development, the most important resource for improving people’s lives.
(4) Session 3 (Cooperation in the International Arena)
- Prime Minister Suga expressed his gratitude to Pacific Island countries for their strong support for Japan’s admission as a permanent member in the United Nations Security Council and for other international elections.
- The PALM Leaders reconfirmed the coordination toward the response to North Korea. Prime Minister Suga requested Pacific Island countries’ continued understanding and cooperation for the early resolution of the Japanese abductions issue, and the Leaders of Pacific Island countries expressed their support.
- Pacific Island countries expressed their strong support for the holding Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.(See above 1(3)C for the detail)
(5) Session 4 (Toward PALM10)
- Prime Minister Suga stated that the PALM Leaders were able to have concrete and action-oriented discussions. Prime Minister Suga also expressed his gratitude to Pacific Island countries for proposing to hold an interim ministerial meeting in a Pacific Island country.
- Pacific Island countries welcomed the strengthening of the PALM process and shared the view that Japan and Pacific Island countries would continue to work closely together.
Tuvalu, as the co-chair, expressed gratitude to Japan and other countries who led the way to the success of PALM9 and stated that they would like to strengthen the partnership between Japan and Pacific Island countries.
Prime Minister Suga expressed his gratitude to the co-chair Tuvalu and other countries and regions for their efforts towards the success of PALM9.
Tuvalu: Prime Minister Kausea NATANO
Cook Islands: Prime Minister Mark Stephen BROWN
Republic of Fiji: Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe BAINIMARAMA
French Polynesia: Vice President of French Polynesia Tearii ALPHA
Republic of Kiribati: President Taneti MAAMAU
Republic of the Marshall Islands: Acting President Christopher J. LOEAK
Federated States of Micronesia: President David W. PANUELO
Republic of Nauru: President Lionel Rouwen AINGIMEA
New Caledonia: President of the government of New Caledonia Thierry SANTA
Niue: Premier Dalton TAGELAGI
Republic of Palau: President Surangel S. WHIPPS, Jr.
Independent State of Papua New Guinea: Prime Minister James MARAPE
Independent State of Samoa: Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade PESETA Noumea Simi
Solomon Islands: Prime Minister Manasseh Damukana SOGAVARE
Kingdom of Tonga: Prime Minister Pōhiva TU’I’ONETOA
Republic of Vanuatu: Prime Minister Bob LOUGHMAN
Commonwealth of Australia: Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise PAYNE
New Zealand: Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia MAHUTA
Pacific Islands Forum (PIF): Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Henry PUNA