Japanese PM Suga asks Pacific islands to help realise free, open Indo-Pacific

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held separate phone talks Tuesday with the leaders of six Pacific island nations, calling for their cooperation in Japan’s efforts to realise a free and open Indo-Pacific region, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Suga offered the six nations — Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu and Vanuatu — Japan’s continued support in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, while pledging to hold a “safe and secure” Tokyo Olympics in less than a month, the ministry said.

The phone talks came ahead of a virtual summit that Japan will hold Friday with 18 Pacific island nations and territories including Australia and New Zealand.

The prime minister also discussed with the six Pacific island leaders Japan’s aid for infrastructure projects as well as renewable energy, while asking for their support in Tokyo’s efforts to secure the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, the ministry said.

SOURCE: KYODO/PACNEWS