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11 November 2022

Productive visit from Japan Foreign Affairs Minister

Tuesday 21 March 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National

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Productive visit from Japan Foreign Affairs Minister
MFAI FB/SUPPLIED

The first-ever visit to the Cook Islands by a Foreign Affairs Minister from Japan has opened up talks of further bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Hayashi Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan who was visiting the Cook Islands, paid a courtesy call on Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown yesterday.

After the welcoming remarks from Prime Minister Brown, Minister Hayashi stated that he was pleased to be the first Japanese Foreign Minister to visit the Cook Islands. The two sides concurred to further strengthen bilateral relations between Japan and the Cook Islands and cooperation with the Pacific Islands region.

Minister Hayashi stated that he would like to invite Prime Minister Brown, the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), to the Outreach Meeting at the G7 Hiroshima Summit this May, and that he sincerely welcomes the participation of the Cook Islands as a partner in promoting a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

Prime Minister Brown stated that he was honored and grateful for the invitation and that he would like to contribute positively to the discussion.

Minister Hayashi stated that for more than 20 years, Japan has supported Pacific Island countries, including the Cook Islands, to address various challenges through the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) process and explained cooperation such as strengthening of the health and medical system and assistance for the water and sewerage infrastructure.

Prime Minister Brown expressed his appreciation for Japan's support including at grassroots level in various areas such as firefighting capabilities, in addition to the cooperation that Minister Hayashi mentioned.

Minister Hayashi stated that Japan would promote a wide range of transparent and inclusive cooperation with Pacific Island countries through a New Plan for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” that Prime Minister Kishida has just announced, toward the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and the two sides confirmed further strengthening of cooperation.

However, the two sides exchanged views on the discharge of Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) to remove radioactive contaminants. 

Minister Hayashi stated that Japan would never allow the discharges unless they are not confirmed to be safe, and stated that based on the visit of Prime Minister Brown and other PIF delegates to Japan this February and the PIF Special Leaders Retreat, he would like to enhance intensive dialogue with Pacific Island countries and continue to work with Prime Minister Brown.

Minister Hayashi handed over to Prime Minister Brown a letter from Prime Minister Kishida showing Japan’s position on strengthening bilateral relationship and the discharge of treated water.

In response, Prime Minister Brown expressed his appreciation for hosting the PIF delegation this February, and stated that he had firmly shared the assurances of safety from Prime Minister Kishida and Minister Hayashi with the leaders of the PIF, and that he appreciated that Japan has been stepping up its efforts. Prime Minister Brown also expressed his desire for continual cooperation.

The two sides also exchanged views on the situation in the East and South China Seas, the situation in Ukraine, and dealing with North Korea including on the nuclear and missile issues as well as the abductions issue, and concurred to work closely together.

They confirmed their cooperation at the Ministerial Interim Meeting of PALM to be held this year toward the PALM 10 to be held next year.