Post-Forum Dialogue of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and
Visit to PIF Member Countries by
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Tetsuro Yano
Summary and Evaluation
I. Main points
1. Japan-Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Post-Forum Dialogue (19 August, New Zealand)
(1) Okinawa Initiative: Discussions on the efforts made by Japan and PIF members in accordance with the Okinawa Initiative, which was adopted at the Third Japan-PIF Summit Meeting (Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM 2003)) held in May 2003.
(2) Solomon Islands: Exchange of Views on cooperation towards the restoration of law and order and economic reconstruction.
(3) North Korea: Agreement was reached on the international community's assistance towards a comprehensive solution of the issue.
(4) At the PIF Meeting (14-16 August), particular attention was given to assistance to the Solomon Islands, and the election of an Australian to post of Secretary-General of PIF. In the Communique, PALM was highly praised, and reference was made to the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. A continuing tough stance was expressed concerning the issues of protection of whales, and transportation of radioactive materials.
2. Visit to PIF Member Countries
(1) Australia (20 August): At a breakfast meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer, both Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation on follow-up matters from Prime Minister John Howard's visit to Japan in July, counterterrorism, the situation in the Solomon Islands, the situation in North Korea, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and others.
(2) Solomon Islands (21 August): It was agreed that situation of law and order was improved. Bearing in mind, the forthcoming meeting between the Solomon Islands and donor countries in October, expectation for Japan's cooperation in fields of economic restoration was conveyed.
(3) Republic of Vanuatu (22 August): This was the first high-level visit from Japanese Government in 12 years. Appreciation for Japan's economic cooperation was expressed, and consultations on transportation of radioactive materials were requested.
II. Summary and Evaluation
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yano visited Auckland, New Zealand from 18 to 19 August, and attended the 15th Post-Forum Dialogue *. He also held bilateral talks with several leaders and foreign ministers of PIF member countries and dialogue partners. From 20 August, he visited three PIF member countries (Australia, the Solomon Islands, and the Republic of Vanuatu). The following is a summary and evaluation of the visit.
* The Post-Forum Dialogue has been held since the South Pacific Forum (SPF), which is the former name of the PIF, started dialogue in 1989 with non-PIF states, mainly donor countries. Every year, the PIF Meeting is held just before the Post-Forum Dialogue Meeting, in which the Forum Communique is adopted. Based on the discussions of the PIF meeting, PIF holds dialogues with non-PIF states. This year marked the 15th of such meeting. Japan has continuously dispatched high-level delegations since the first Post-Forum Dialogue.
PIF member countries and regions are: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Fiji Islands, Independent State of Samoa, Solomon Islands, Republic of Vanuatu, Kingdom of Tonga, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Kiribati, Tuvalu, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, Cook Islands and Niue.
(1) 15th Post-Forum Dialogue
(a) In the morning of 19 August, the Japan-PIF Post-Forum Dialogue was held in New Zealand, attended by Mr. Tetsuro Yano, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs; Hon. Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand; Sir Robbie Namaliu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea; Hon. Bill Motufoou, Cabinet Minister of Niue; Mr. Noel Levi, Secretary-General of PIF.
(b) In its opening statement, the PIF side expressed its appreciation for Japan's recent contributions, including holding the Japan-PIF Summit Meeting (PALM 2003) in May 2003 and the adoption of the Okinawa Initiative. The PIF side expressed its intention to continue to actively tackle sustainable development and other issues, and requested further cooperation from Japan, including financial cooperation. Japan emphasized its intention to further strengthen its cooperative efforts based on the Okinawa Initiative, a comprehensive regional development strategy, and to steadily follow up and implement the Initiative.
(c) As one of the main agenda items for the meeting, the PIF side addressed the topic of marine resources, welcoming Japan's participation in the preliminary meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention (WCPFC). Regarding whaling, Japan expressed a stance of promoting the sustainable use of whales and other marine resources, based on scientific data. The PIF side explained the prevailing view among its member countries to establish the national sanctuaries (no-whaling zone).
(d) Regarding regional security, the PIF side explained that it was progressing with efforts to restore law and order to the Solomon Islands, and requested further cooperation from Japan concerning this issue.
(e) In the Post-Forum Dialogue, the issue of North Korea was raised anew, based on discussions that had taken place at the PIF Meeting. Points that were emphasized included: North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons development, the opening of nuclear facilities once again to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, and rejoining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
(f) On the issue of the shipment of radioactive materials, the PIF side announced its policy to continue to further dialogue with the shipping states.
(g) In other areas, it was confirmed to maintain cooperation concerning such issues as the methods to promote trade and investment between Japan and PIF members, and counterterrorism measures.
(2) Bilateral Meetings
(a) New Zealand
In talks with Minister Goff (New Zealand has newly taken on the Chair of the PIF) it was affirmed that, in addition to strengthening bilateral relations, New Zealand will enhance its cooperation with Japan, as the Chair of the PIF. Minister Goff stated that New Zealand, which has diplomatic relations with North Korea, shares the same position as Japan in dealing with the North Korean issue.
(b) The Republic of Palau
In talks with Hon. Mr. Temmy Shmull, Minister of State, economic and other cooperative relations with Japan were praised. Palau's shared position with Japan on marine resources, and further cooperation within the international arena were confirmed.
(c) Papua New Guinea
Talks were held with Foreign Minister Namaliu, and it was affirmed that Japan will cooperate with Papua New Guinea, a major country which holds a prominent position among the island nations, in international issues such as United Nations (UN) reform.
(d) Japan also held bilateral talks with the United Kingdom and France, to enhance bilateral relations in dealing with the issue of transportation of radioactive materials.
2. Evaluation of the Post-Forum Dialogue
(1) Since the inception of the Post-Forum Dialogue, Japan has dispatched high-level officials, such as the Senior Vice-Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary, in order to strengthen relations with PIF members. This was the first Dialogue since the Third Japan-PIF Summit Meeting in May, 2003. This Dialogue was attended by the Senior Vice-Minister in order to further ensure the momentum, which was heightened as a result of the Japan-PIF Summit Meeting, to be carried still further.
(2) The PIF side uniformly praised Japan's active cooperative attitude and expressed their appreciation on many occasions during both the Dialogue and in the bilateral talks.
(3) Overall the meeting was immensely amicable and cooperative. On the issue of marine resources including whaling, and the shipment of radioactive materials, however, many PIF members took a stern stance. Therefore, close attention must be paid to these issues in the future.
(4) Moreover, particular emphasis was placed on the North Korean issue at this meeting. As a result, the PIF side deepened its understanding of Japan's position on this issue, and Japan was able to confirm cooperation within the international arena.
(5) At the PIF Meeting held directly before the Post-Forum Dialogue, New Zealand assumed chairmanship of the PIF for a period of one year. Also, an Australian was elected to become the new Secretary General beginning in January 2004. Japan believes that cooperation with the island nations, and, in particular, with Australia and New Zealand will become even more important in the future in dealing with various issues such as the Solomon Islands.
3. Visits to PIF Member Countries
(1) Australia (20 August):
At a breakfast meeting with Foreign Minister Downer, the death of UN Special Representative Vieira de Mello and others, which were caused by terrorism in Iraq, were mourned. It was agreed to enhance the follow-up to Prime Minister John Howard's visit to Japan in July and cooperate on such issues as the situation in the Solomon Islands, the situation in North Korea, and the non-proliferation of WMD and others.
(2) Solomon Islands (21 August):
For the Solomon Islands, where public security has deteriorated due to ethnic conflict, a joint intervention has been carried out since 24 July by deploying PIF police (approx. 300) and military personnel (approx. 2300), the majority of them being from Australia. Through exchange of opinions among Hon. Sir Allan Kemakeza, Prime Minister, Hon. Snyder Rini, Deputy Prime Minister, and Mr. Nick Warner, Special Coordinator to Solomon Islands and inspection of the deployed personnel, it was confirmed that the restoration of the country's law and order, which is the present goal, has been progressing more than expected. Strong expectations are now being placed on the next issue of economic reconstruction and Japan's participation in the donor meeting scheduled for October was strongly requested.
(3) Republic of Vanuatu (22-23 August):
Although Japan has a good relationship with the Republic of Vanuatu, no Japanese high-level representative has visited the country since the visit by the former Foreign-Affairs Parliamentary Vice-Minister Muneo Suzuki in 1991. One of the purposes of this visit was to impress upon the Republic of Vanuatu Japan's interest in and cooperative attitude toward Vanuatu. Confirmation of these points, along with the Okinawa Initiative, was made by Prime Minister Edward Nipake Natapei and Deputy Prime Minister Serge Vohor who attended the meeting. From the Vanuatu side, further consultations were requested on economic cooperation and transportation of radioactive materials.
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