Japan on Tuesday recommitted to support Pacific island nations improve maritime security and prevent illegal North Korean shipping activity, at a regional summit in the tiny island nation of Nauru.
In a presentation to the Pacific Islands Forum, Japanese Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Iwao Horii said Japan will “spare no effort” to support Pacific nations to “realize a free and open maritime order, based on the development of a resilient and sustainable region and the rule of law.”
Horii said regional maritime security is especially important in light of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of goods by North Korean vessels.
He said Japan welcomes the Pacific Islands Forum’s commitment to deregister ships associated with North Korea in line with U.N. sanctions over the country’s nuclear and missile development programs.
Maritime security has been a key issue for Japan and Pacific island states, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holding similar discussions with their leaders at a summit in May.
Meg Taylor, secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, reiterated the importance of strong maritime security and borders for the sake of Pacific self-determination.
“The Pacific nations take very seriously the issue of completing all their maritime boundaries,” the Papua New Guinean lawyer and diplomat said in a press conference.
“And (in the) future, in terms of how we decide how we manage the security issues in this part of the world is going to be a decision that leaders of the Pacific make, and not just former, traditional powers and nontraditional powers who are now vying for top place or influence in the region.”
The Pacific Islands Forum is an intergovernmental organization comprising Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Japan, along with China and the United States, are among the forum’s 12 “dialogue partner” countries.