Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Fiji. He is the first Japanese Foreign Minister to visit Palau. (Photo courtesy of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Japan has sent its foreign minister for a visit to Palau for the first time ever.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono arrived in Palau yesterday evening, August 5, as part of his Asia-Pacific engagement that kicked off on July 29 in Bangladesh and will conclude in August 9 in the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI).

Minister Kono also visited Myanmar, Thailand, and Fiji prior to his visit in Palau. He is the first foreign minister to visit the Pacific islands after over three decades. The last time a Japanese foreign minister visited the Pacific islands was in 1987 by then foreign minister Tadashi Kuranari.

In a speech delivered at the University of the South Pacific on August 5, Kono said that Japan will “willingly provide” support for Palau’s hosting of the Our Ocean Conference next year.

During his stay in Palau, Kono will also visit Peleliu, Palau’s island that had been the staging ground of one of the fiercest battles between the United States and Japan troops during World War 2.

He is also expected to present an award to the Palau Judo Federation on August 6.

Japan’s Ambassador to Palau, in a speech before local government officials on August 2, said that the visit is a demonstration of how Japan gives importance to its relationship with Palau. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)