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Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at Abe’s official residence, Tokyo, May 19, 2015 (Issei Kato, pool photo via AP).

With Eye on China, Japan Ramps Up Pacific Island Security Ties

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Late last month, Japan hosted the 7th Pacific Islanders Leaders Meeting (PALM) in Fukushima prefecture. The PALM meeting represents the foundation of Japan’s engagement with states from the South Pacific, and has traditionally been a forum dominated by Tokyo’s provision of overseas development assistance to the region. But Japan’s relationship with many of those island states is deepening, as Tokyo looks to incorporate more political and security cooperation amid growing regional competition from China.

This year’s PALM meeting was attended by the Forum Island Countries (FIC)—Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia—as well as Australia and New Zealand (who with the FIC states make up the Pacific Islands Forum). At the summit, Japan pledged to devote $440 million in aid to the FIC states over the next three years, elevating Tokyo’s planned assistance to those states to nearly $1 billion from 2013 to 2019. Tokyo’s engagement with the FIC states is rooted in development, but ties have also evolved to focus considerably on environmental security and issues such as climate change and disaster risk management. ...

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