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Japan will provide support for Pacific island nations to beef up their anti-illegal fishing efforts and ability to enforce maritime law, the government has decided.
The measure will be included in the joint statement for the 8th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM8) set to be held in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 18-19, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to attend.
Many Pacific island nations lack enough ships and trained personnel to crack down on illegal fishing, while some also do not have sufficient domestic laws, and Japan's assistance will extend to helping countries draft legislation.
Recent years have seen increased illegal fishing by Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian vessels in island nations' exclusive economic zones (EEZ). The fishing boats have apparently been squeezed out of the East and South China seas by China's growing maritime assertiveness, and pushed into the wider Pacific. The joint statement will include a passage on strengthening measures to prevent this illegal fishing.
The government is set to offer Pacific island countries joint training with the Japan Coast Guard, provide vessels including used patrol ships, and support training and education of new personnel.
The first PALM summit was in 1997, and has been held every three years since. This year, 14 island countries plus Japan, Australia and New Zealand will participate.
Japan is also looking to strengthen maritime security in cooperation with the United States and Australia, as part of Tokyo's policy of promoting free navigation in the Indian and Pacific oceans.
According to Japan's Fisheries Agency, PALM8's 14 island nation participants have a combined EEZ about five times that of Japan's, and have plentiful mineral and aquatic resources in those areas.
SOURCE: MAINICHI TIMES/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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