BY JULIAN RYALL
TOKYO — Peter Christian, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, held talks in Tokyo with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with Abe announcing grant aid of Y350 million ($3.08 million) for the development of infrastructure in the islands.
Abe said the financial package “shows anew Japan’s commitment to supporting Micronesia’s development.”
The two leaders’ talks focused on a number of key areas, they said, including measures that will help to lay the foundations for a successful eighth Pacific Islands Leaders’ Meeting, scheduled to be held in Fukushima Prefecture in May 2018.
Japan has hosted the summit, which brings together leaders from Japan and Pacific island nations, every three years since 1997.
The two leaders also agreed to work closely to ensure safe and stable operations of Japanese fishing vessels in waters around Micronesia, as well as measures to repatriate the remains of Japanese military personnel killed during World War II.
Abe and Christian were in agreement on the need to ensure that sanctions imposed upon North Korea by the United Nations are enforced, including those that relate to North Korean-flagged ships operating in international waters.
One of the most important issues the two leaders discussed was open seas and the need for all nations to adhere to international maritime laws. The Japanese side was particularly keen to obtain Christian’s support in this area as it seeks to put pressure on China to permit access to disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Beijing insists that waters around isolated atolls and islets that is has developed and militarized in the region are now its territorial waters. That claim has brought it into conflict with other countries that have territorial claims in the region, as well as international powers that are demanding the right of free navigation for shipping.
Japan colonized much of Micronesia between the 1920s and the end of the war in 1945, with the two nations establishing diplomatic ties in 1988. mbj