23 May 2009

Japan's Prime Minister reaffirms his country's ties with Pacific region

10:00 am on 23 May 2009

Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso has reaffirmed his country's strong ties with the Pacific region and plans to continue being a major aid and trade partner.

He made the comment at the opening of the fifth Pacific Leaders Meeting or PALM in Japan.

He told the 13 heads of state and other officials from the Pacific at the two-day summit, that Japan will do as much as it can to help Pacific islands try to overcome their challenges.

Mr Aso also said Japan wants to share technology and know-how with the island region.

He said Japan's promise at the 2006 PALM to provide billions of dollars in aid and promote exchanges among at least 1,000 youth were realized over the past three years.

Meanwhile, Niue's Premier, Toke Talagi, who also chairs the Pacific Islands Forum, urged Japan to bring its aid programs into line with the "Pacific Plan," a blueprint for regional and national development produced by the Pacific Island Forum nations two years ago.

Taro Aso expected to announce aid projects for climate change and environmental protection, for the Pacific as well as people-to-people exchanges.