History of the Pacific Island Countries
Great World Powers in the Pacific
1522Ferdinand Magellan crosses the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
1769James Cook embarks on his first Pacific voyage and reaches Tahiti.
1843France territorializes Tahiti (the first colonialization of a Pacific Island Country by a European power).
1874Britain colonializes Fiji.
1891Painter Paul Gauguin visits Tahiti for the first time.
1892Koben Mori moves to the Truk Islands, becoming the first Japanese immigrant to a Pacific Island Country.
1898Spain and the United States go to war; Guam becomes a U.S. territory.
1902New Guinea's ownership is transferred from Britain to Australia.
1916Author W. Somerset Maugham tours Polynesia.
1919Micronesia, until then a German territory, becomes a League of Nations mandate under Japanese administration.
1922Japan sets up the Pacific Islands Agency in Palau.
1941Novelist Atsushi Nakajima visits Palau.

The islands of the Pacific were not mentioned in European history books until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Beginning then many Westerners flowed in, including Christian missionaries and colonial administrators, greatly affecting the cultures of these islands. Contagious diseases were also brought in. From the mid-nineteenth century onward, the Pacific islands came under the rule of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

1941Japan attacks Pearl Harbor.
1942The Battle of Midway and the Battle for Guadalcanal are fought.
1944The Battle of Saipan.
1945World War II ends.

The islands of the Pacific became an intense war zone during World War II, and the battles claimed high casualties.

The Cold War Era
1946The United States begins testing nuclear bombs on Bikini Atoll.
1947Micronesia becomes a U.N. trust territory under U.S. administration.
1966France begins nuclear testing on Mururoa Atoll.

Independence of the Pacific Island Countries
1962Western Samoa (present-day Samoa) becomes the first Pacific Island Country to achieve independence.

The islands of the Pacific have gradually been gaining independence: two countries in the 1960s including Western Samoa, six countries in the 1970s, and three countries in the 1980s. The most recent country to win independence is the Republic of Palau, which gained nationhood in 1994.

Relationship between the Pacific Island Countries and Japan in the New Era
1971The South Pacific Forum is founded.
1985The Soviet Union concludes a fisheries agreement with Kiribati;
Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone visits Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
1987Foreign Minister Tadashi Kuranari visits Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Vanuatu.
1989Japan becomes a dialogue partner of the SPF.
1997The Japanese government hosts the First Japan-South Pacific Forum Summit Meeting in Tokyo.
2000PALM 2000 (The Second Japan-South Pacific Forum Summit Meeting) is held in Miyazaki.

In recent years Japan has begun supporting the nation-building efforts of Pacific Island Countries through official development assistance. It also actively promotes the exchange of views through summit-level and ministerial talks and through official talks held annually between the South Pacific Forum and non-member countries (extraregional dialogue). Through various forms of exchange and invitation programs, moreover, Japan strives to facilitate interaction at the grassroots level.

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