On 26 August 2022, the Republic of Palau and Okinawa Prefecture of Japan signed a “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on strengthening friendly relations”. At the virtual signing ceremony connecting the Office of the President of Palau in Koror and Naha City in Okinawa, Minister of State Gustav Aitaro and Governor of Okinawa Tamaki Denny signed the MOU, which states that Palau and Okinawa will “facilitate collaborative efforts to solve common challenges in the island region by utilizing resources and technologies possessed by each party.” President Surangel S. Whipps Jr., Ambassador of Japan Karasawa Akira, Ambassador of Palau Peter Adelbai, representatives from JICA Okinawa Center and Palau Visitors Authority of Tokyo attended the ceremony.
Okinawa, the southwest islands of Japan and located 2,200km north from Palau, has long historical relations with Palau for nearly 100 years. In 1942, more than 13,000 Okinawa people resided in Palau and were mainly engaged in fisheries and agriculture. At the present day, Palau and Okinawa conduct people-to-people exchanges and cooperate in many areas including agriculture, fisheries, the environment and tourism. Particularly in 2022, it is notable that (i) Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment of Palau visited Okinawa in May; (ii) 4 Okinawa fisheries experts were dispatched to Palau in June; and (iii) 6 Palauan fishermen joined pole-and-line training in Okinawa in July.
At the ceremony, Governor Tamaki said, “Okinawa and Palau will further strengthen historical and cultural ties and expand our cooperation in technology, human resources and environmental conservation for our sustainable development of Palau and Okinawa based on this MOU.” Ambassador Karasawa said, “Today’s ceremony demonstrates Japan’s strong commitment to support Palau in many areas for benefits of all the people in Palau.” President Whipps said, “It is my pleasure to celebrate this important MOU. It will help us develop strong agriculture and fisheries, share our best practices to tackle climate changes, as well as protect and wisely use our precious resources in the ocean. Governor Tamaki, I dream someday direct flights between Okinawa and Palau will bring many tourists from Okinawa to Palau and deliver fish and agricultural products from Palau to Okinawa so that we can enhance our strong partnership and further develop Palau’s economy.”