Fiji to benefit from Japanese aid
Fiji looks set to receive a significant share of an aid package from Japan after the PALM 7 Pacific leaders meeting over the weekend.
Fiji looks set to receive a significant share of an aid package from Japan after the PALM 7 Pacific leaders meeting in Tokyo.
The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, wound up the meeting with 14 Pacific leaders, with a pledge to spend US $453 million to help them fight climate change and natural disasters.
The Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury, Steven Ratuva, says it may trigger a re-think from Australia and New Zealand of their approach to Pacific aid.
He spoke to Alex Perrottet.
STEVEN RATUVA: I think for Fiji sees its bilateral relationship with countries as being much more important than the regional. Its 'look north' policy is very much a reflection of that so the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea is going to be interesting and Fiji is staying away from that meeting. The real political intent, the real political substance of the relationship between the three countries still hasn't shifted much, particularly when Fiji's demanding that Australia and New Zealand not be part of the Forum.
ALEX PERROTTET: One other thing that Fiji is demanding lately is that the big countries take action on climate change, because in his view that's what's causing these issues in Pacific countries like rising sea levels and Shinzo Abe has announced $453 million US dollars for the Pacific over the next three years. One would assume some of that is earmarked for Fiji and for the development project, which is going to fix up the flooding in Nadi. Do you see that project moving forward quickly now since that commitment has been announced?
SR: Yeah a significant amount of that money will probably go to the Nadi rehabilitation, or diversion of the Nadi River, which has been one of the fundamental cause of flooding in recent floods. And interestingly Japan's interest in the Pacific is at this time when the Chinese are also showing interest in the Pacific and the time when Australia and New Zealand are having this contestation, this geopolitical tension between them and also at the time that the Pacific Islands Development Forum is beginning to take roots. The Pacific Islands Development Forum's interest is really in relation to the economic development, to the green economy, the blue economy as they call it. And then the Japanese aid of 400 million dollars really falls within that framework. So Fiji's probably seeing that as a victory to itself, in terms of the way which it has been selling the Pacific Islands Development Forum agenda to Japan, and Japan has kind of responded, in a way. But the money is not just for Fiji but for the Pacific generally.
AP: Yeah I mean these figures, $453 million US dollars, how do you think Australia and New Zealand are going to react to this ahead of the Forum?
SR: Australia and New Zealand, particularly Australia, may not feel very comfortable with it, because it would assume that [Japan] is trying to fill in what it's supposed to be doing, because it has not been very proactive in terms of climate change issues. So Australia and New Zealand will probably begin to re-assess the way they provide aid, to directly link them to the basic issues of the Pacific and I don't think they have really been giving aid proactively to ease sea level rise, so that's something which the Japanese have started off and I'm sure that will begin another process of re-thinking.
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