By Chief Reporter AVA TURNQUEST in Tokyo
TOKYO, Japan - Climate change and disaster risk reduction will take centre stage during the ministerial-level talks between Japan and CARICOM member states this week.
The country is hosting delegations representing the 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states this week in a bid to strengthen partnership on international issues ahead of critical United Nations’ meetings next year.
Maki Kobayashi, director of the Caribbean Division within Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained the Caribbean bloc had substantial influence as active members in the international arena, and increased solidarity on foreign policy issues that impacted Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Officials will also seek to establish cooperation on international issues of disarmament and non-proliferation, development, United Nations reform – particularly Security Council reform – and the post-2015 Development Agenda.
“We would like to advance rapidly and profoundly the relationship that we have with Caribbean countries, to cooperation in terms of economic development in order to ensure sustainable development of CARICOM, because Caribbean countries are vulnerable particularly as Small Island Developing States and as Japan also has small islands within our territory we have experiences and challenges that we share with the Caribbean community,” Ms Kobayashi said.
“We put a lot of importance to work together to overcome vulnerabilities and increase resistance to natural disasters. We both are energy importing countries so we would like to find ways to overcome issues of how to mix with renewable energy and fossil fuel energy, what we can do to work together in order to cope with climate change but at the same time mitigate the effects of climate change which are natural disaster and energy issues.”
Both Japan and CARICOM member states share common perspectives on a number of issues as democratic nations with similar geographical characteristics, Ms Kobayashi added.
The first consultation meeting to establish the Japan-CARICOM relationship was held in Jamaica in 1993, and this year was commemorated as “Japan-CARICOM Friendship Year.”
The fourth ministerial-level conference will take place on Saturday, and will follow up on policy outlined at the Japan-CARICOM Summit held in Trinidad and Tobago in July. The country also hopes to deepen mutual trust through bilateral meetings with individual member states.
Seven foreign ministers, and one trade minister, will attend the meetings, with the remaining seven member states to be represented by designated officials.
Picewell Forbes, High Commissioner to CARICOM, will lead the Bahamas delegation.