Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Special Advisor Kentaro Sonoura delivering a speech before the marine law enforcers during his visit to Palau on January 15. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Special Advisor Kentaro Sonoura visited Palau last week as part of the move to promote the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy in the region.
Sonoura, after a series of meetings with Palau government officials, had personally attend a joint simulation exercise of the Japan Coast Guard and Palau’s Bureau of Maritime Security and Fish and Wildlife Protection conducted in Malakal on January 15.
“Securing the maritime security and safety of the sea area is extremely vital not only for the states surrounding the sea area but also for the whole of Asia and indeed, the whole world,” Sonoura said in his speech before the marine law enforcers after the simulation exercise.
“The Indo-Pacific region is the core of global development. It is important to bring stability to all country in this region by strengthening a free and open maritime order of this area,” Sonoura added.
Presidential Chief of Staff Seciil Eldebechel, in his speech during the event, also expressed Palau’s appreciation for Japan’s support to the country in the areas of maritime security.
Japan, along with Australia and the United States, had been helping Palau in securing its waters. Japan, aside from supporting the enhancement of skills of local marine law enforcers, had also previously gifted Palau a large patrol boat called PSS Kedam and a building for the marine law office through organizations Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
Meanwhile, Australia also donated Palau’s first patrol boat, the PSS H.I Remeliik.
“Most of our valued resources are coming from our ocean and this is very important for us and we are very much grateful for Japan to be partnering with us along with our other allies, US, Australia in this effort to protect our oceans,” Eldebechel said.
Maritime Security and Fish and Wildlife Protection Acting Director Victor Remengesau told the media that among the threats in Palau’s waters are illegal fishing and it being utilized as a transit for illegal drug trade.
During the simulation exercise, marine law officers engaged in a training on how to deal with crimes involving illegal drugs.
The Indo-Pacific Strategy is seen as a move to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative. A senior US official also visited Palau last year to promote the same strategy. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)