President Mori's statement at the
6th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM6)
Nago City, Japan, May 25, 2012
Check Against Delivery
Co-Chairs, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good afternoon everyone. It is always my pleasure to visit Japan, especially in this beautiful Prefecture of Okinawa, at this time to attend the 6th Pacific Island Leaders Meeting.
Co-Chairs, it is my pleasure to make a short comment on the assigned topic of Kizuna. Upon arrival on Miyako Island, I cannot help but appreciate the opportunity to witness Kizuna itself in action when we met the young men and women from the Pacific Island Countries and Japan, engaging in serious discussions on a wide range of issues including the important issues of environment. As part of PALM6 activities this year, Young PALM is a new initiative and a testament of the sincere desire of Japanese Government to further promote interactions among young people in our region. These young men and women of our region are our most precious resource and our investment as they are the future leaders of our respective nations. I thank Japan for organizing such an important event as part of the PALM process and congratulate Miyako Island as a venue of this event.
Japan's success in extending Kizuna to our region should not be any surprise since Kizuna is a fundamental Japanese way of everyday life. Japan is still faced with enormous challenges, including reconstruction from the catastrophic tragedy of March 11, 2011. Prime Minister Noda, you have said it all when you said, and I quote, Hardship at home should not be an excuse for drawing back from engagement in the region. Rather, hardship taught us the importance of Kizuna or the bond of friendship. The Kizuna between Japan and Pacific Island Countries is deeply rooted in the fact that we share the same Pacific Ocean and the common spirits of islanders nurtured by this great ocean. End of quote.
I commend the people of Japan for the strength, resilience, and courage that they have shown during this national catastrophic tragedy. Japanese people have truly found strength in "Kizuna"-the bonds of solidarity between friends, bonds which cannot be broken. I believe it is through "Kizuna" that holds Japan together during its darkest moment.
In this respect, I thank you and commend your Government for continuing to demonstrate your commitment to the "Kizuna Plan" introduced in PALM5 three years ago in Hokkaido to strengthen and deepen people-to-people exchanges at all levels between Japan and Pacific Island Countries. The initiative includes programs like: Ship for World Youth Exchange Program, JOCV, Youth Exchanges, Invitation Programs, and "Visit Pacific Forum" Program, to name just a few. As a result of these programs, we have witnessed increasing number of our young people taking advantage of these programs during the past years.
We are also grateful to Japan Government for expanding this year's programs like Japan-East Asia Network for Exchanges for Students, and Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) through English teachers to include the Forum Island Countries.
These initiatives will have far reaching impacts in the lives of our people not only by deepening and augmenting existing efforts but also developing into new areas as we are all peoples of the sea, peoples of the Pacific.
For the people of the Federated States of Micronesia, we take great pride in our traditional and special historical link with the people of Japan, dating back toward the end of the 1800s when the early Japanese pioneers visited our islands. We have worked together in partnership with Japan on wide range of issues and interests that are important to both countries. The long standing bonds of friendship and cooperation have stood the test of time and will surely continue to be dynamic and mutually beneficial. Today, our mutual friendship, respect, and goodwill continue to grow and strengthen.
Co-Chair, Prime Minister Noda, it was my pleasure to present to you the two coconut fiber ropes four days ago symbolizing the Kizuna between our two people. Prime Minister, about 20 percent of my country's populations are of Japanese descendants. That explains the special affinity our two peoples have toward each other.
We will continue to work and look to Japan because Japan is not only an island country, but plays a leadership role as an economic development partner in addressing our collective regional challenges and opportunities.
In closing, I wish to reiterate our thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to be here in Japan as well as our solidarity with the people of Japan during this recovery and reconstruction period. I urge all of us to continue to be a positive force in deepening the Kizuna for our mutual benefit.