Sixth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting
(Overview of Outcomes)
(1) On May 25 and 26, the Sixth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 6) took place at the Bankoku Shinryokan, Nago City, Okinawa under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Japan, H.E. Mr. Yoshihiko Noda and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Hon. Henry Puna. Including Japan, there were 16 countries and 1 region whose leaders and representatives participated in the Summit. It was the first PALM that the United States participated in.
(2) At the summit, under the slogan of "We are Islanders - For Growing 'Kizuna' (Strong Bonds) in the Pacific", the Leaders formulated five pillars for cooperation over the next three years: (1) response to natural disasters; (2) environment and climate change; (3) sustainable development and human security; (4) people-to-people exchanges; and (5) maritime issues. The Leaders were engaged in lively discussions along these topics, and at the end of the Summit, Okinawa "Kizuna" Declaration was adopted.
(3) Prime Minister Noda announced Japan's commitment of making maximum efforts to provide up to 500 million US dollars of assistance over the next three years in order to push forward cooperation in accordance with the five pillars stated above. The Pacific Island Countries expressed deep appreciation for Japan's continuing strong commitment to the region, even while Japan is faced with reconstruction challenges from the Great East Japan Earthquake.
(4) Prime Minister Noda expressed deep appreciation for the support and sympathy extended by countries in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and stated that Japan intended to make a public appeal of its reconstruction efforts with "Hula Girls", the Goodwill Ambassador for PALM 6.
(5) Prime Minister Noda had bilateral talks with all of the Leaders who attended the Summit.
2. Overview of each session
(1) Session 1
Prime Minister Noda stated that, in the past 15 years since the first PALM was held, PALM process had undergone constant reviews, which includes launching of the first Ministerial Interim Meeting in October 2010. He also mentioned that this year, Japan invited the United States, which is drastically strengthening its engagement in the Pacific Island Countries, for the first time to PALM 6, and that he would like hereafter to discuss the participation of the United States in PALM 7 and beyond.
The Pacific Island Countries responded that they welcomed the participation of the United States. The United States stated that it had been strengthening its engagement in the region since President Obama assumed the reins of government, and expressed its appreciation for the invitation to PALM 6.
(b) Assistance Plan by Japan
Prime Minister Noda stated that the 50 billion-yen aid that Japan announced at the previous summit was achieved over the past three years, and he reported that significant improvements had been seen in every pillar. Prime Minister Noda proposed the five pillars for future cooperation (under "1." above), and stated that Japan would make maximum efforts to provide up to 500 million US dollars of assistance over the next three years in order to advance cooperation in accordance with these five pillars.
In response, the Pacific Island Countries expressed their deepest appreciation for Japan's continuing, strong commitment to the region, even while Japan works to recover from the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
(c) Response to Natural Disasters
Prime Minister Noda underlined his resolve to share the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and expressed his intention to promote the following initiatives: (1) improving the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System and (2) contributing to the development of catastrophe-risk insurance.
In response, some of the Pacific Island Countries explained how they responded to the tsunamis and other natural disasters when they were faced with such disasters in recent years, and they expressed their intention to push forward collaborative efforts with donor countries in the area of disaster prevention.
(2) Session 2 (Working Lunch)
Prime Minister Noda stated that, based on the outcomes of COP 17, Japan intended to work to address the climate change issues in collaboration with the Pacific Island Countries. He also explained Japan's three initiatives aiming at promoting renewable energy: (1) operating the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund, which was initiated by Japan at the last PALM, (2) contributing to the SIDS-DOCK Program, which supports the introduction of renewable energy to small islands, and (3) jointly hosting a workshop with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Furthermore, Prime Minister Noda mentioned that Miyakojima, where the Pacific Island Leaders visited on May 25, was implementing projects of providing technologies such as sewage engineering to the Pacific Island Countries, and he noted Japan's intention to advance this type of cooperation by utilizing the knowledge of Okinawa to address various issues that the countries were confronting.
In response, the Pacific Island Countries stated that the impact of climate change was indeed a serious problem that threatened their national security, and given the fact that the Pacific Island Countries were the most vulnerable to climate change, their position was that the international community should work on this issue with the utmost priority.
(b) Maritime Issues
Prime Minister Noda stated that Japan would like to cooperate in fields such as fishing and environmental protections as a fellow maritime nation that shares the Pacific Ocean, and also like to reaffirm the importance of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and its relevant Implementing Agreements reflecting the principal legal framework with regard to maritime order.
The Pacific Island Countries responded that they would like to push forward maritime cooperation in a wide variety of fields, including the sustainable fisheries management. Furthermore, there was a discussion regarding the effects of climate change on maritime issues.
(c) Other Matters
Prime Minister Noda explained that Japan originally invited the foreign minister from Fiji, which continues to have a military government, but the Minister was unable to attend. Prime Minister Noda added that Fiji was Japan's friend, and that Japan intended to continue to have a dialogue with Fiji and to provide the necessary support in order to push forward the democratization of the country in cooperation with the United Nations.
Some countries stated that it would still be necessary to closely watch whether the promise to hold a general election by 2014 is going to be kept while some positive steps had been seen toward its democratization.
(3) Session 3
Prime Minister Noda stated that Japan would continue to provide the Pacific Island Countries with assistance in infrastructure development and to give support to ensure basic social services from the view point of human security and that Japan's assistance would be carried out in light of the fact that the Pacific Island Countries are facing difficulties with development because of their scattered and scarce land mass. Prime Minister Noda also stated that it would be important to advance aid coordination with major donor countries as well as involving emerging donors in such existing aid-coordination mechanisms keeping in mind debt sustainability.
In response, the Pacific Island Countries stated that they welcomed Japan's initiatives towards sustainable development, explained the challenges that the countries are facing, and also pointed out the importance of aid coordination.
(b) People-to-People Exchanges
Prime Minister Noda announced the following initiatives of strengthening kizuna: (1) a meeting held on May 24 between the leaders and the Japanese business community, (2) Young PALM held on May 25 in Miyakojima, (3) an expansion of the JET Program to the Pacific Island Countries, (4) the Kizuna Project, which will invite over 300 young people to Japan this year, and (5) visa facilitation arrangements. The Pacific Island Countries expressed gratitude for Japan's initiatives and stated that they would like to deepen their cooperation to strengthen kizuna.
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