Japan over the weekend announced a new US$450 million (SBD$3.5 billion) funding package for the Pacific region for the next three years.
Prime Minister Shizon Abe announced this at the end of the seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7) at the Japanese city of Iwaki.
“As a pledge of the Japanese Government, we will provide no less than US$450 million to you in the coming three years until the year we hold PALM8,” Abe told island leaders that converged for the summit in Japan.
Solomon Islands was represented by deputy prime minister Douglas Ete.
Mr. Abe said this new funding package is needed in order to foster resilient capabilities that will not be defeated by climate change or disasters.
“We will also push forward two-way exchanges and training of human resources to serve as assistance in cultivating both expertise and technical skills,” he added.
“We anticipate that this will be at a scale of roughly 4,000 people.
“We pledge to step up our efforts so that Pacific islands nations are able to fully utilise the Green Climate Fund.”
In return Abe had asked Pacific leaders to give particular consideration to Japan’s fishing activities.
“I am of the belief that assistance to improve your coastguard and your ability to protect your own resources is a responsibility that Japan should shoulder.”
Abe also requested Pacific island nations to assist his country retrieve bones of Japanese soldiers killed in the islands during World War II.
“Your countries have always warmly welcomed Japanese visiting to collect the remains of fallen soldiers,” he said.
“”And we also know that you could testify on our behalf regarding the path Japan has untiringly carved out over 70 years, invariably with great regard for peace.
“A great number of souls waiting to return to their homeland still linger there on islands in the Pacific.
“Please continue to lend your support to us in the future during our trips to search for soldiers’ remains.
“I believe that our pledge to proactively work to bring peace to the world, based in international cooperation and created atop the path we have walked these 70 years, will continue to be received with the same warm geniality you have extended to us until now,” the Japanese prime minister said.
He added Guadalcanal, which became well-known for its gold mining, left us with a sense of delighted surprise.
“However, we are moved to solemn contemplation, knowing that it has become an island struggling to harmonise development with nature.
“This is because the worries bedevilling the Solomon Islands are a kind of adversity that we in the Pacific hold in common.”
Meanwhile, Abe called for all islands of the Pacific to stay connected.
“In order for us to face up to the fury of nature and also recover even better from disasters, we must bring to each other our wisdom and experiences while maintaining connections in which we help each other out at anytime.
“What will help us achieve this goal well is a community committed to the equality of all before the law, which places importance on democracy and has great regard for the human rights of each individual.
“What we should have two-way relations that are as level as the horizon itself and entirely free of threats using force or coercion.
“That is the order for a society of Pacific citizens.
“Let us solidify our commitment. It is a commitment to make our ocean a sea that is both Pacific and prosperous and a place that brings a promising future to each and every person living there.”