PALM10: Japan’s extended hand to the Pacific Islands – Asia Times

PALM10: Japan's extended hand to the Pacific Islands - Asia Times

President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida both discussed the need for ongoing cooperation with more Indo-Pacific nations, mentioning the Pacific Islanders. Hence, continuous dialogue between Japan and PICs could not be more proper as Japan prepares to&nbsp, host&nbsp, the triennial PALM10 conference this July 16- 18.

Staff from all 14 Pacific Island nations may go, alongside Australia and New Caledonia. According to Covid- 19, this year’s summit will also be the initial in-person dialogue since PALM9 went live electronically in 2021.

The triennial website, which is officially known as the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting ( PALM), is a first-of-its-kind forum for Japan and each PIC to exchange open views on high-priority issues. Since its inception in 1997, PALM has grown to be Japan’s main website for boosting trade and diplomatic relations with the Pacific Islands.

Japan has a lot of potential to join its PALM counterparts and contribute to the establishment of the Indo-Pacific’s peace and stability goals that are socially agreed. Japan’s diplomatic partnership with the PICs started in the late 20th centuries. During World War II, the Japanese had occupied the Pacific Islands, and trade in natural materials continued.

Their cooperation has expanded to include non-traditional security issues, such as those involving projects related to climate change, and Japan’s formal official official development assistance ( ODA ). Under the 2016 Free and Open Indo-Pacific model, then-President Shinzo Abe’s administration began collaborating more closely with the Pacific Islands region in light of China’s growing effect.

More lately, Japan was a founding member of the Partners of the Blue Pacific action in 2022, even including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The islands perhaps be little, but their surrounding sea is vast—constituting&nbsp, almost one- five of the earth’s surface. It contains maritime channels and significant sea lines of communication ( SLOC), which are the mainstay of maritime enforcement activities, from a strategic perspective.

From business to bilateral/multilateral politics

Geographically, the Pacific Islands are dispersed and isolated.

Japan’s diplomatic relations with the Pictures continue to be focused on business politics. Concerning natural sources, trees log exports from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand alone&nbsp, account&nbsp, for about 20 % of Japan’s entire trade size of trees logs.

The Pacific serves as both nations ‘ primary supply chains for the movement of food and natural resource imports and exports. Around 40 % of the bonito and tuna&nbsp, consumed&nbsp, in Japan are caught in the exclusive economic zones ( EEZs ) of Pacific Island nations.

Within the Pacific Island country’s EEZs lie essential water lines of communication. The use of cutting-edge technologies, such as exposure to satellites that produce clearer, more precise images, as well as artificial intelligence and big data platforms focused on vehicle tracking, projection, and anomaly recognition, are of particular value for the area.

Most importantly, Vanuatu is one of the world’s three information integration centres, which was established under the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness by Quadrilateral Security Dialogue countries, and is facilitating the surveillance of sea operations for the US and its allies/partners. This confirms that the Pacific Islands are the product of regional threats of all kinds.

The fusion center’s data is susceptible to sea overflow and potential adversary threats and damage.

The shared history and sensitivity of nuclear testing in the Pacific Islands region are facing a new challenge. No island has endorsed a firm position of agreement with the plan despite the Japanese government’s decision to release more than a million tons of wastewater from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant over the course of 30 years. At an individual country level, most Pacific Island leaders expressed opposition.

Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Matai Seremaiah, in a statement last year, said:” ]We are ] urging polluters not to discharge the treated water in the Pacific Ocean until and unless the treated water is incontrovertibly proven to be safe to do so, and]to] seriously consider other options”.

The public’s opinion of Japan is still mixed even there. A recent Kyodo News Agency poll&nbsp, found&nbsp, that 44 % of Japanese are unsure whether to support or oppose the release, with 82 % saying the government has n’t done enough to explain it. The responses so far demonstrate the need for greater transparency.

Energy and education assistance

There are some ways Japan can continue to form strong partnerships with the Pacific Islands nations given their current and future engagement.

Japan should fulfill its promise to provide more assistance in the energy sector of the Pacific Islands. Further, Japan might continue to export green energy and help to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The Pacific Islands ‘ most pressing security issue is climate change, which could be addressed by reducing dependence on fossil fuels through government subsidies.

As published in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Island Continent and formally&nbsp, announced&nbsp, during the 2022 Pacific Islands Forum ( PIF), the need for more options for alternative energy sources and lessened reliance on fossil fuels is more important than ever, being tied to the Pacific Islands ‘ sovereignty and&nbsp, very survival.

One of the measures that could be put in place to promote greater self-sufficiency for all 14 Pacific Island countries is facilitating education and training programs, in addition to climate initiatives.

Continued engagement, especially at multilateral forums and partnerships, offers ways for Japan to continue meeting PICs on their terms and engage in dialogue with each PIC’s unique needs and concerns.

In the upcoming months, maintaining integrity and compliance with international standards, as mandated by the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international organizations, will be crucial. In anticipation of PALM10, the Japan Foreign Ministry’s” New Free and Open Indo- Pacific” ( NFOIP ) framework&nbsp, stated&nbsp, that climate change- related development assistance will be at the center of discussions.

Thus, the Japanese government needs to provide more detail about the specific areas of climate change that it intends to invest more money in, particularly those involving initiatives aimed at promoting a green future and maritime security.

Countering Chinese influence in the region requires providing partner countries with security cooperation that China might otherwise address because IUU fishing, disaster prevention, resilience, and climate change-related projects remain the PICs ‘ most pressing national security concerns.

Do n’t press countries to pick a superpower

If Japan wants to develop multilateral relationships with the PICs, holding regional forums like the PALM10 that do not promote a particular security strategy may be in its best interest.

National and regional interests – in this case, climate change – come with mutual objectives. Thus, multilateral, region- specific forums&nbsp, allow&nbsp, the PICs to accept assistance according to their most prioritized areas of interest without aligning themselves with the US or China.

Japan’s existing partnership with France and the PICs could open up a new chapter for regional cooperation. France has longstanding ties to the region, and Japan and France’s 2013 cooperation roadmap in defense and security can&nbsp, provide&nbsp, alternative avenues for collaboration. Without feeling any immediate pressure to join forces with the US or China, the PICs could address bilateral security issues.

The PICs can increase their self-sufficientness and lessen the pressure to align their interests with the larger powers ‘ strategic priorities, which are key areas of regional concern, particularly climate change.

Jamie Lee&nbsp, ( @jamie@pacforum .org ) is a resident WSD- Handa fellow at Pacific Forum. She previously interned at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies ( APCSS) for regional security studies. She recently completed her Mnoa University with a master’s degree in political science.

This article was first published by Pacific Forum. It is republished here with permission.