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With Eye on China, Japan Seeks to Bolster Ties With Pacific Island Countries

Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoko Kamikawa speaks at a press conference with Minister for Cook Islands Foreign Affairs and chair of the 5th Ministerial Interim Meeting Tingika Elikana at the Forum Secretariat in Suva on February 12, 2024. Leon LORD / AFP

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, together with her counterparts from the 18 members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIC), reaffirmed this week the importance of the “rules-based international order” — a somewhat anodyne declaration but significant in the context of Japan’s contentious relationship with China.

In separate reference to China, Kamikawa and her fellow PIC foreign ministers also expressed their strong opposition to any attempts to change the status quo by force — another nod to the growing concern about the South Pacific getting drawn into the burgeoning great power rivalry between China and the United States.

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