Japan to host Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting in July; plans to offer Climate support, counter China’s Influence

Then Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga greets the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting held by video conference, in July 202. (PHOTO: Yomuiri Shimbun)

The Japanese government has begun final arrangements to host the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) in mid-July, inviting the leaders of all 18 Pacific Island Forum (PIF) members to Tokyo.  

At the summit, Japan plans to launch support measures based on the needs of Pacific island countries, such as climate change countermeasures, aiming to counter China’s growing influence in the region. 

Japan has been hosting the meeting every three years since 1997. As the previous meeting in 2021 was held by video conference due to COVID-19, this will be the first time in six years that the event will be held in person. 

Pacific Island countries face the threat of sea level rise caused by climate change. 

Japan plans to provide weather data and support, such as the development of information infrastructure to aid evacuation in the event of a cyclone. Japan is also expected to assist these countries in the development of communication infrastructure, including the installation of submarine cables. 

In 2022, China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands that is believed to allow Chinese naval vessels to call at its ports. China is using the country as a foothold to accelerate its expansion in the Pacific, causing Japan and the United States to become more vigilant. 

Nauru’s announcement of breaking off diplomatic relations with Taiwan on 15 January, shortly after the Taiwan presidential election, is believed to have been motivated by China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan in the international community. 

As a response to China’s moves in the region, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa intends to attend a ministerial meeting with Pacific Island countries held in Fiji during the first half of next month and coordinate support measures to be presented at the July summit.