The meeting, held every three years, is a platform for Japan and forum leaders to discuss and collaborate on opportunities and challenges facing the Pacific region.
According to a report by Nikkei Asian Review, Japan is aiming to close loopholes on North Korean sanctions and curb China from expanding its influence in the Indo-Pacific by bolstering its relationship with small island nations.
It said PM Abe is also planning to meet one-on-one with 14 leaders on the sidelines of the two-day event in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture.
“This year’s meeting will focus mainly on Japan’s campaign for a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ and on North Korea,” the Japan-based business journal said.
“Abe wants to increase official development assistance to the Indo-Pacific to counter growing Chinese influence in the region. Islands there represent strategic points in shipping lanes between Asia and the Americas, but many of them lack the resources and ability to patrol their expansive exclusive economic zones on their own.”
Pacific Islands Forum chair and PALM co-chair, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also the prime minister of Samoa, in a statement emphasised Forum Leaders’ commitment to collective regional action, and to inclusive and enduring partnerships that advance regional priorities.
“The Blue Pacific represents our collective identity, drawing on our connection to the Pacific Ocean, and reinvigorates our commitment to work together in building a harmonious and prosperous region,” he said in a statement.
“Japan has been a longstanding Forum Dialogue Partner and we look forward to productive discussions and to strengthening collaboration at PALM 8.”
The statement issued by the Pacific Islands Forum also said climate change and disaster resilient development will be at the forefront of the agenda including strengthening leadership in international negotiations and to proactive efforts to build resilience to disasters in Forum Island Countries.
“Leaders will discuss the governance and the sustainable management of the Pacific Ocean, including fisheries and protecting and preserving the marine environment. Options to strengthen people to people links between Forum Island Countries and Japan will also be discussed,” added the statement.
French Polynesia and New Caledonia will attend the PALM for the first time since their admission as full members of the Pacific Islands Forum in 2016.
PALM was initiated in 1997 to strengthen relations with Pacific Island countries and to work jointly towards the development of the Pacific region.