"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] "Kizuna" in the Pacific that binds us all together

[Date] May 24, 2012
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Kaselehlie Press
[Full text]

A friend in need is a friend indeed. This widely quoted but truthful proverb was most manifestly embodied by the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami last year. We will never forget the compassionate encouragement and assistance from the people of the Federated States of Micronesia and other PICs at the time of the unprecedented national crisis. Here again, on behalf of the people of Japan, I wish to express our deepest gratitude to everyone concerned.

On the 25th and 26th of this month, I am hosting the sixth Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM6), a triennial summit between Japan and PICs since 1997. It will take place in Okinawa, an island prefecture in southern Japan, which shares unique but similar characteristics with PICs. In PALM6, we will discuss five major issues for our further cooperation: response to natural disasters, environment and climate change, sustainable development based upon human security, people-to-people exchanges, and maritime issues. I look forward to having frank discussions with His Excellency President Mori and other PIC leaders. These issues are of vital importance to the well being of the people of our region and are areas where Japan and PICs can jointly contribute to the international community. I am determined to work with the PIC leaders to make this summit a true success.

Japan, as a development partner on an equal footing, has been working together with PICs in their nation building. We cannot deny that Japan is still faced with enormous challenges including reconstruction from the disaster. I intend to declare at PALM6, however, that we will never let this fact undermine our commitment to the region. Hardship at home should not be an excuse for drawing back from the engagement in the region. Rather, hardship taught us the importance of "kizuna," or the bond of friendship. The kizuna between Japan and PICs is deeply rooted in the fact that we share the same Pacific Ocean and the common spirits of islanders nurtured by this great Ocean. Your heartfelt support during our national crisis gave us the conviction that we should carry on.

This "kizuna" of course extends to Fiji, too. Fiji's ongoing process to build a firmly based democracy is of great importance to the stability and prosperity of the region. Japan's message is clear and consistent. We are friends of the Fijian people as we are of other PICs. We hope that Fiji will continue to take concrete actions towards free and fair elections no later than 2014 and, to this end, we intend to maintain close dialogue with the Fiji Government. We look forward to further positive developments.

It is "kizuna" that binds us all together in the Pacific and motivates us to keep on working hand in hand towards the future. I sincerely hope that Japan and PICs, based upon long-lasting friendship and cooperation, will continue to act together to achieve peaceful and prosperous future of the Pacific.

Yoshihiko Noda

Prime Minister of Japan