The Island Nations of the Pacific
The Island Nations of the Pacific
With the new fund guidelines set up in 1998, the decision has been made to continue to provide support with a special emphasis on Micronesia over the next decade. Along with that, the SPF delegation headed by SPF Chairman Setsuya Tabuchi made the rounds of Guam, Palau, and Saipan for a period of eight days from October 3 through October 8, 1999 in order to observe local conditions and exchange views with local leaders.
Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, member of the Lower House, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Japan-Palau Friendship Assemblymen Federation, Reizo Utagawa, member of the SPINF Steering Committee and Managing Director of the Nippon Foundation, and Takashi Shirasu, Director of the SPINF Secretariat and SPF chief program officer, participated as members of the delegation.
The group was warmly greeted by the local governments, Japanese embassies and consulates and by many other respective parties. Since Ambassador Masao Salvador of the Palauan Embassy in Tokyo accompanied the group, we were pleased that he would make the trip back home again with us. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their cooperation.
We asked Mr. Tabuchi, the leader of the group, about the impressions of the delegation members after their journey.
The Island Nations of the Pacific Conceal the Potential for Development and Growth in the 21st Century −What was your impression after visiting Micronesia for the first time?
T a b u c h i The Sasakawa Pacific Island Nation Fund covers more than twenty political entities centered in the independent island nations that dot the Pacific Ocean but also including self-governing islands that are the territory of the U.S., France or other countries.
We had the chance this time to visit Palau and Saipan.
Still, on the way, we made a stopover in Guam for about four hours, where we were invited to visit the Japanese Consul. The President of University of Guam and his wife as well as trustees, deans and others from that school came to the consul to present us a letter of appreciation for our ten years of endeavor.
A glance at the map shows you that the area of Micronesia alone in the western Pacific is about as large as the U.S. and the island nations of the Pacific occupy an area equivalent to about one-third of the surface area of the entire earth.
The Republic of Palau, where we spent most of our time during the trip, has a population of only about 17,000 but it is extremely vigorous and active. We were able to catch a glimpse of their commitment to work together with other island nations to somehow or other raise themselves up above other developing nations.
Just by coincidence, the 30th South Pacific Forum happened to be held in Palau while we were there and we were able to meet the heads of state of the island nations. We learnt that all the heads of the states took advantage of the opportunity and approved the change of the name of the organization from South Pacific Forum to Pacific Islands Forum. They removed the word "south" from the name because they wanted to express their intention for all of the Pacific island nations to work together to achieve development.I was given the premonition that the development and growth of the Pacific island Saipan nations would become a center of worldwide attention in the 21st century.