NHK reported at noon that the NSC’s Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said during a speech at an online event hosted by a Washington-based think tank on Thursday that the United States will launch next week an initiative to step up U.S. engagement with Pacific islands by working with like-minded countries such as Japan with China’s maritime advancement in mind. NHK showed Campbell saying: “We will be launching next week an initiative to work with a variety of like-minded countries to ensure that like-minded countries are able to make clear our desire to keep a Pacific environment that’s open, that’s healthy, that’s productive, and free from coercion.” The network said the United States is hoping to work closely with other nations to strengthen maritime domain awareness by monitoring maritime activities using satellites to address various issues faced by Pacific island nations, such as illegal fishing. The network added that the leaders of the Quad members confirmed during their summit in Tokyo last month that they will provide the necessary technologies and training for maritime domain awareness to nations in the Indo-Pacific region. The network said the United States and China are increasingly competing to expand their influence over Pacific island nations.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno reportedly told the press today: “Although I am aware of the remarks made by Indo-Pacific Coordinator Campbell, I would like to refrain from commenting on diplomatic exchanges…. Japan has long enjoyed friendly relationships with Pacific island nations and has greater influence with them. It is a key region for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific and has been working closely with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Japan will continue to promote cooperation while assessing the needs of Pacific island states and further strengthen partnerships with them.” Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hayashi reportedly told the press today: “We have long enjoyed friendly relations with Pacific island nations and deepened our cooperation with them. It is a key region for realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific. I visited Fiji and Palau at the beginning of last month and was reminded of their importance.” Hayashi also reportedly stressed the importance for Japan of working closely with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand to offer cooperation that meets regional needs.