H.E. David W. Panuelo Meets T.H. Kishida Fumio; FSM-Japan Kizuna Further Strengthened Over Dialogue on the Importance of a Free & Open Indo-Pacific; FSM to Receive X-Ray Machines & Other Medical Equipment, Patrol Boats to Arrive by 2024 at the Earliest

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H.E. David W. Panuelo Meets T.H. Kishida Fumio; FSM-Japan Kizuna Further Strengthened Over Dialogue on the Importance of a Free & Open Indo-Pacific; FSM to Receive X-Ray Machines & Other Medical Equipment, Patrol Boats to Arrive by 2024 at the Earliest

 

PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On February 2nd, 2023, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)—was received by the Honorable Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan, at the Office of the Prime Minister in Tokyo. Over the course of a productive bilateral discussion between the two leaders and a follow-up working dinner, President Panuelo and Prime Minister Kishida emphasized their commitment to further develop the traditional, friendly, and cooperative relationship between the FSM and Japan i.e. the FSM-Japan Kizuna (special bond). Joining President Panuelo included the Honorable Wesley W. Simina, Speaker of the 22nd FSM Congress, as well as members of the President’s Cabinet.

 

During their bilateral engagement, President Panuelo and Prime Minister Kishida reaffirmed their commitment to realize a Free & Open Indo-Pacific. They committed to opposing all forms of military, economic, and political coercion, and reaffirmed the critical importance of respecting international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight. In this regard, Prime Minister Kishida briefed President Panuelo on Japan’s National Security Strategy, wherein the President relayed the FSM’s genuine understanding and total support.

 

“Micronesia supports Japan’s National Security Strategy,” President Panuelo said, “and [we] proudly stand with Japan in support of the rules-based international economic order, and ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region remains secure, stable, peaceful, and prosperous.”

 

President Panuelo congratulated Japan for its current membership in the United Nations Security Council, and reaffirmed the FSM’s long-held position that Japan ought to become a permanent member of the Security Council after the Council undergoes necessary reforms.

 

In view of the cross-cutting impact between traditional security and economic security, President Panuelo and Prime Minister Kishida agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in the promotion of economic security. The President and the Prime Minister expressed concern, and strong opposition to, economic coercion to achieve political ends.

 

President Panuelo was both explicit and direct in asserting the FSM’s views on its close familial relationship with the People and Government of Japan. “The People and Government of Japan are one of our Nation’s closest friends, allies, and development partners,” President Panuelo said. “We share common values, such as a commitment to democracy and democratic principles…we share 35 years of diplomatic relations and more than 100 years of traditional relations. Micronesia is proud that we share a Kizuna, or special bond, with one another.”

 

The President described at length the FSM’s appreciation, across administrations, for Japan’s in-depth and wide-ranging support to the FSM across virtually every sector. “The People and Government of the [FSM] appreciate Japan’s transparency and support on the issues that are important to our people. We were humbled and proud that the Japanese Ambassador residing in our Nation attended every COVID-19 Task Force meeting to keep us informed on how the Pandemic was impacting your country, which improved decision-making for policy makers in Micronesia.”

 

As an outcome of the bilateral engagement, the Honorable Kandhi A. Elieisar—Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs—and His Excellency Michigami Hisashi, Ambassador of Japan to the FSM, signed an exchange of notes, wherein the FSM will receive approximately $2,700,000 of medical equipment, such as x-ray machines and infusion tubes.

 

The meeting also covered Japan’s forthcoming donation of four small patrol boats to the FSM. This cooperation is expected to strengthen the FSM’s maritime security and law enforcement systems, thereby contributing to the Nation’s economic and social development through social stabilization. Originally agreed upon in June 2022, the specific applications to be provided, and the capabilities required for them, will be determined in future discussions between the FSM and Japan Governments. It is projected that the patrol boats, which will be deployed mainly for activities in the FSM’s territorial waters near its coastline, will not reach the FSM until 2024 at the earliest.

 

“I am also personally appreciative to Japan for its transparent and substantive briefings on the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS)-treated water; our country is no longer fearful or concerned about this issue as I relayed at the United Nations General Assembly, and now has a deep trust in Japan’s intentions and technological capabilities in not harming our shared oceanic assets and resources,” President Panuelo said.

 

In a Joint Statement signed by President Panuelo and Prime Minister Kishida, the FSM and Japan—among many other topics—shared their intention to maintain high-level mutual visits and dialogues, as well as to promote exchanges between the two countries’ Parliamentarians, including friendly parliamentary leagues. The President and Prime Minister additionally reaffirmed that people-to-people exchanges should be facilitated in various fields, including further dispatch of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteers, such as in the area of mathematics teaching at the FSM’s public schools.

 

“There is much our People and Government are thankful for,” President Panuelo said. “We thank you for providing mathematics teachers who volunteer in our schools, improving the education of our children, and for financial support for our Fisheries & Maritime Institute. We thank you for providing infrastructure support, such as the expansion of our commercial and fisheries dock in Pohnpei, and the East Micronesia Cable Project in partnership with the United States of America and Australia. We thank you for providing medical equipment and training. We thank you for sharing information that impacts our decisions. But most of all, we thank you for being our friend.”

 

Mindful that missile testing and the abduction of citizens by the People’s Republic of Korea (i.e. “North Korea”) is one of Japan’s most sensitive and important security issues, President Panuelo promised Prime Minister Kishida that the FSM “will always support Japan in this area however we can. We will co-sponsor and/or vote for any resolution at the United Nations, or join with Japan in any other bilateral or multilateral action deemed necessary and important, to show solidarity on this issue.”

 

“It is the objective of the [FSM] to extend to all peoples and nations that which we seek,” President Panuelo said. “Peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity. We hope that the People of Japan feel this peace, friendship, cooperation, and love. And I conclude my remarks by confirming, without any doubt, that the People of Micronesia feel this peace, friendship, cooperation, and love from Japan.”

 

On February 3rd, 2023, President Panuelo and his delegation—inclusive of Members of Congress and officials, both elected and public service, from the State Governments—celebrated 35 years of diplomatic relations with Japan through the opening of the FSM’s new Embassy building. Following the opening of the Embassy, the President engaged numerous media outlets through a Press Conference and one-on-one interviews, as well as entertained courtesy calls from representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan among others.

 

The FSM-Japan Kizuna celebrates 35 years of formal diplomatic relations, and more than 100 years of traditional relations.

 

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