President Surangel Whipps Jr. said the people to people exchange initiative between Japan and Pacific Island countries through the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) resulted in some 300 university students from the region having the opportunity to study in Japan.
At the 9th PALM, held virtually on July 2, Whipps thanked Japan for the People-to-People Exchanges and Human Resource Development initiative which only strengthened the partnership with the island nations.
“In this regard, let me convey our appreciation to the Government of Japan for its educating future leaders program support for the digitalization of education; exploring labor opportunities in Japan and facilitating youth and academic exchanges,” Whipps said in his statement at the meeting.
He said the initiative also saw 400 Japanese cooperation volunteers visit the region , sharing their expertise and the Japanese language.
Whipps said the region will continue to look to Japan to increase its people’s education and employment capacities.
“Prime Minister (Yoshihide ) Suga, through this, our 9th PALM, we hope to strengthen our human resource development, to increase education and employment opportunities, to strengthen knowledge sharing and technical expertise on areas critical to our region, and for which Japan has great strengths.., “ Whipps added.
The president also noted Japan has also been assisting the region through its I quality infrastructure development; private sector development and innovation; disaster response and health and education systems.
With the region beset with a range of challenges from COVID-19 pandemic to threats of climate change , economic recovery to security, Whipps said it needs the help of one of its closest ally- Japan to respond to the issues.
“Through capacity building and developing strong partnerships, can we truly build back a resilient and prosperous Pacific,” Whipps said.
The president also invited Japan to join Palau at the Our Oceans Conference scheduled here in February 2022.
During the meeting, 18 Pacific Island leaders, including Palau, discussed five priority areas for PALM cooperation for the next three years.
The cooperation will cover COVID-19 response and recovery, sustainable oceans based on the rule of law, including the ALPS treated water issue, climate change and disaster resilience, strengthening foundations for sustainable and resilient economic development, and people-to-people exchanges and human resource development.
Pacific Islands Forum chair and Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano said in the meeting that it is also seeking an “honest and frank dialogue on Japan’s intention to discharge Advanced Liquid Processing System Treated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.
“We want to ensure no harm to our Pacific Ocean, environment and our people.”
Mr. Natano said that the ALPS is a critical issue for the Pacific that it urges Japan to ensure international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments on the matter.
In the joint statement at the conclusion of the summit, the Pacific island leaders and Japan made commitments to the importance of “free, open and sustainable maritime order based on the rule of law.”
Japan also vowed to assist the region in COVID-19 and infrastructure development, and provide at least 3 million vaccine doses.