PIF HQ, Suva (July 2, 2021) – Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and the Prime Minister of Japan, Hon. Yoshihide Suga, have completed their virtual Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting, the PALM 9, reaffirming the PALM partnership and priorities for collaboration for the coming three years to address emerging challenges.
In an opening ceremony, Prime Minister Suga and the Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Tuvalu Prime Minister Hon. Kausea Natano, set out respective visions for the region, recognising common values as a basis to strengthen the PALM partnership.
Welcoming the Pacific Leaders to the virtual PALM 9, Prime Minister Suga highlighted Japan’s commitment to establish peace and prosperity in the Pacific region and the world, and announced Japan’s Pacific Bonds (Kizuna) Policy to strengthen cooperation between Japan and Forum Island Countries.
In his opening response to the Japanese Prime Minister, the Forum Chair noted the strong and enduring partnership between Japan and the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, with the 25th anniversary of PALM next year.
Leaders discussed five priority areas for PALM cooperation for the next three years, covering COVID-19 response and recovery, sustainable oceans based on the rule of law, including the ALPS treated water issue, climate change and disaster resilience, strengthening foundations for sustainable and resilient economic development, and people-to-people exchanges and human resource development.
Cooperation in the international arena was also discussed including the climate change crisis facing Forum Islands Countries and the need to address climate change with a heightened sense of urgency and action at UNFCCC COP26 this November. Forum Leaders welcomed Prime Minister Suga’s announcement of Japan’s Pacific (Kizuna) Bonds Policy to strengthen cooperation between Japan and Forum Island Countries, and PALM Leaders jointly endorsed a PALM 9 Action Plan to deliver concrete action over the next three years.
“Today we have the opportunity to advance our dialogue and cooperation in areas of critical concern to our Blue Pacific. COVID-19 response and recovery, climate change and disaster resilience, and the sustainable management of our oceans are foremost among these,” Forum Chair Hon. Natano said.
As such “We seek honest and frank dialogue on Japan’s intention to discharge Advanced Liquid Processing System Treated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. We want to ensure no harm to our Pacific Ocean, environment and our people.” On this critical issue Forum Leaders highlighted the priority of ensuring international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments. The Forum Leaders welcomed Japan’s intent of ensuring transparency and continuing close dialogue with Forum Members.
Prime Minister Natano also noted Pacific Islands Forum Leaders would be seeking Japan’s support “for critical regional initiatives including the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent which will drive the region’s interests over the longer term, the Pacific Resilience Facility and zone-based management for our fisheries. ”
In his closing remarks, the Forum Chair noted how PALM 9 has “reinvigorated our partnership and set a forward plan for collaboration on issues of critical importance to our region, and indeed, the world… Let us take forward our commitments today and turn our words into action and impact. ”
“We are at a time when regional stability has never been more critical to maintaining security and prosperity. Supporting such stability requires genuine and mature partnerships that recognise and support the collective strength, voice, and priorities of Pacific people,” Hon. Natano said.
Towards PALM 10, a meeting of PALM Foreign Ministers will be held to follow up on PALM 9 Outcomes and prepare for the Leaders meeting in 2024. Pacific Islands Forum Leaders offered to host the ministerial meeting in the Blue Pacific region and welcomed Prime Minister Suga’s proposal to host PALM 10 in Japan. –ENDS
Read the full Forum Chairs statements HERE
Read the PALM 9 Leaders Declaration HERE