Published On: Fri, Nov 14th, 2014

CARICOM and Japan further strengthens relationship

CARICOMhqGEORGETOWN, Guyana - CARICOM and Japan relationship will go a step further this week, when CARICOM Foreign Ministers meet with their Japanese counterpart, the Honourable Fumio Kishida, at the Fourth CARICOM-Japan Ministerial Meeting, on 15 November 2014, in Tokyo, Japan.

The CARICOM side will be led by the Honourable Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana and Chairperson of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).

The Caribbean Community and Japan have enjoyed long-standing relations, established since 1993. Currently they are celebrating the occasion of the Japan-CARICOM Friendship Year in 2014, marking the  twentieth anniversary of the establishment of formal relations.  Both sides are committed to continuously strengthening the relationship; and earlier this year, the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzō Abe, visited the Region.  This visit was highly significant, as it was the first time that a Japanese Prime Minister had visited the CARICOM Region.

At the Meeting, Foreign Ministers will actively follow-up on the highly successful First CARICOM-Japan Summit held in July 2014, in Trinidad and Tobago, where Japan’s assistance to the Region’s development, trade and investment was discussed.

Foreign Ministers  will address issues under the  broad pillars of cooperation towards sustainable development, including overcoming vulnerabilities particular to small island states; deepening and expanding bonds founded on exchanges and friendship; and cooperation in addressing challenges at the international community.

With respect to the issues for discussion, Japan is particularly interested in cooperation in addressing challenges at the international community which was highlighted by the Prime Minister of Japan.  Among the issues on the international agenda of interest to both sides are UN and UN Security Council Reform; Climate  Change; SIDS; Sustainable Development including Post 2015 Development Agenda, the sustainable use of marine resources; disaster risk management; international peace and prosperity.

For CARICOM, the issues are financing for development, preservation of the Caribbean Sea as a nuclear free zone and concerns regarding Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Several CARICOM Member States have been graduated from access to concessionary financing based on the use of per capita income as the sole criteria for measuring development.  Member States have been arguing that the degree of vulnerability to external shocks, including natural disasters, should be taken into account.  CARICOM believes that Japan is a powerful partner which could advocate on its behalf in international fora, especially where it does not have representation, such as in the G7, G20 and OECD.  Several CARICOM countries are highly indebted due to the criteria used and are classified as middle income countries and therefore deemed ineligible for development assistance. CARICOM countries have been calling for the reform of the multilateral financial institutions and for Japan, as an influential partner in this regard, as being well placed to influence the direction of any reform process.

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