Japan, Fiji confirm deepening ties amid concerns over China’s influence

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan and Fiji confirmed on Saturday that they would continue to cooperate closely for peace and stability in the Pacific region as they shared concerns over a recent security deal between China and the United States. Solomon Islands, the Japanese government said.

At a meeting in the Fijian capital, Suva, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who also serves as Foreign Minister, affirmed the goal of realizing an “Indo-Pacific free and open,” amid China’s growing military and economic weight in the region.

Hayashi also strongly condemned Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, saying it undermines the foundations of the international order and that it is important for countries that share fundamental values ​​to unite, the Japanese ministry said. Foreign Affairs in a statement.

Hayashi’s three-day trip through Sunday to the Pacific islands of Fiji and Palau came after China announced last month it had signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in the southwest of the Pacific, fueling concerns about an increase in Beijing’s military influence in the region.

The China-Solomon Islands deal would allow Beijing to deploy forces and dock ships in the islands, though details remain unclear.

Later in the day, Hayashi met Henry Puna, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum and former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, in Suva. Fiji is the current chair of the 18-member regional body.

On Sunday, Hayashi is due to meet with political leaders in Palau.

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