October 30, 2019, Koror: First Lady of Palau, Debbie M. Remengesau, had a packed three day visit to Japan last week where she met with First Lady of Japan, Mrs. Akie Abe, to discuss Palau and Japan’s shared ocean challenges and potential partnership solutions.

The First Ladies discussed their personal concerns around the challenges of conserving the planet for future generations, and agreed that, as Pacific islanders, we must come together and leverage our shared ancient cultures of conservation to find practical solutions to the urgent environmental issues the world is facing.

First Lady Remengesau asked for the continued support of Japan in maintaining the aims of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. She also brought up the vital need for countries to work together to implement IUCN’s resolution to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 to build climate resilience and maintain life on earth.

The First Ladies also discussed the role women can play in helping progress these aims and in particular, the role the spouses of leaders can contribute. First Lady Abe invited First Lady Remengesau to join her and other female spouses of world leaders at the launch of her ocean conservation initiative next month in Japan, to further this discussion and work together to create and initiate solutions.

“It was an honor to meet with First Lady Abe again and discuss our shared concerns regarding safeguarding our ocean and planet for the next generation,” said First Lady Remengesau. “I believe that Palau and Japan have an important leadership role to play in this and look forward to working closely with First Lady Abe to help achieve our shared conservation goals.”

Following her successful meeting with Mrs. Abe, First Lady Remengesau continued on to Osaka where she attended the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) event and met with JATA’s President and other senior JATA officials to formally accept the inaugural Japan Tourism Commissioner’s Award for Palau Pledge on behalf of the Republic.

Judged by a panel of industry experts, this is the first time JATA has given out this prestigious award. The judging panel commented: “The Palau Pledge initiative is groundbreaking in its encouragement of foreign travellers to make a pledge to preserve nature, intended by Palau government to protect the natural environment. The initiative was evaluated as having a high degree of development potential and social value in connecting to sustainable development and its implementation of environmental protection.”

Upon accepting the award certificate at Palau’s JATA show booth, the First Lady thanked JATA and the Japanese government for the recognition of Palau’s efforts to protect its environment and culture, and for its support in promoting Palau as an outbound tourism destination.

The First Lady also discussed the next phase of the Palau Pledge with JATA officials and negotiated a plan to promote Palau to the JATA membership; an important step in harnessing the full potential of the outbound Japanese visitor market to Palau.

In addition to her meetings with Mrs. Abe and JATA, First Lady Remengesau met with the CEO and senior directors of Skymark to discuss the airline’s approach to providing regular direct flights from Narita to Palau from early next year. The CEO reiterated Skymark’s commitment to Palau and expressed Skymark‘s enthusiasm for the new route.

Before leaving Japan, the First Lady also met with Palau’s Goodwill Ambassador, actress Minako Tanaka, to discuss further promoting Palau via her work.

The outcomes of the First Lady’s meetings will strengthen the special relationship between Japan and Palau and help promote Palau as a premium destination to high-value Japanese visitors. (PR)