NAGO, Okinawa--Japan was expected to pledge up to $500 million (about 40 billion yen) to help island nations deal with natural disasters at the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting scheduled to finish here on May 26.
At a dinner reception on May 25 in the Bankoku Shinryokan convention center, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, "We want to contribute to the disaster management measures of the various nations by sharing the experiences from the Great East Japan Earthquake."
Japan is providing support for the creation of an early warning system for earthquakes and tsunami in the region, and the joint declaration to be agreed on by the leaders was expected to include a pledge from Tokyo to contribute a maximum of $500 million over the next three years for natural disaster preparations.
Noda was expected to announce the establishment of a new insurance program to compensate island nations for damage from natural disasters.
Japan has hosted the leaders’ meeting since its inception in 1997. This year's summit attracted leaders from 12 nations and one region, including Tonga and the Federated States of Micronesia. The military government of Fiji declined to take part, but the United States sent a representative for the first time, a reflection on the Obama administration’s new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.
The agenda for the two-day meeting included disaster preparedness, climate change, maritime security and discussions on environmental pollution, securing maritime resources and navigation rules.
Noda was expected to discuss greater cooperation on defense issues with some nations.
Henry Puna, the prime minister of the Cook Islands and co-chair of the meeting, said in his speech that Japan was one of the most important partners for development in the Pacific region.
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