Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has welcomed Palau President Surangel Whipps Jnr to Tokyo ahead of the 10th Pacific Islands Leaders’ Meeting (PALM 10).

“I’m pleased to hold our third summit meeting,” Kishida said in a statement.

“Japan aims to seamlessly strengthen our ‘kizuna’ and ‘tokubetsu’ relationship with Palau, built over a long history of exchange.”

President Whipps responded, “It’s an honour to visit Japan and meet you again. I look forward to working together with Japan in all aspects.”

The two leaders discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral relations.

They agreed to review methods to enhance the “tokubetsu” relationship in light of the 30th anniversary of Palau’s independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Palau. They noted progress since last year’s summit in areas like infrastructure development, tourism, and agricultural and fisheries cooperation.

“We appreciate Palau’s cooperation in collecting remains of Japanese war dead,” PM Kishida said.

“We hope for continued support.”

PM Kishida also mentioned Japan’s intent to strengthen cooperation in medical and financial sectors and promote personnel exchanges.

“We value exchanges with local governments, acceptance of Palauan students, and youth exchanges,” he said.

The leaders confirmed progress in bilateral maritime cooperation, including security.

“Japan supports capacity building for Palauan maritime authority,” PM Kishida noted, referencing joint training and the port call of the Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer “Ariake” in August.

President Whipps expressed gratitude for Japan’s support.

PM Kishida recalled President Whipps’s visit to Fukushima last year.

“We appreciate your confidence in Japan’s efforts regarding the discharge of ALPS treated water into the sea,” he said.

President Whipps affirmed, “During my visit, I confirmed that Japan conducts the discharge under the highest safety standards. We thank Japan for its commitment to safety.”

PM Kishida also expressed strong support for regional unity and the Pacific Islands Forum’s “2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.”

“For PALM 10, Japan will pursue outcomes aligned with the ‘2050 Strategy’ and address common challenges like climate change and maritime issues,” he said.

Both leaders agreed to work together for the success of PALM 10.

The two leaders also exchanged views on regional affairs.

“We must cooperate to maintain a free and open international order as important partners who share values and principles,” Kishida emphasised.

President Whipps agreed, highlighting the importance of their partnership.