Japan and NZ to work more closely in Pacific  

By Talisa Kupenga

Japan and New Zealand will work more closely on Pacific issues to make progress in the region amidst China's influence in the area. Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono met with Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today to discuss the next steps. 

Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono says "going forward we all agree to support the Pacific Island Region and we're considering to support the high standard infrastructure and enforcing the connectivity in maritime security area."

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says "we know that if we join together with countries like the EU, indeed France, the UK, USA, Japan and Australia and NZ we will do a whole lot more a whole lot quicker."

Parts of Japan's Indo-Pacific strategy and NZ's Pacific Reset strategy will be linked. Both strategies are seen as being prompted by rivalry with China's rising influence in the Pacific.

There were also talks of establishing a group with other countries to pursue common interests in the area.

Minister Peters says "it [the group] would incorporate them all but hopefully not too big. So that you get, as Norman Kirk once said, 'paralysis by analysis' we want action and fast."

Issues about debt levels in the Pacific were also raised.

Minister Kono says "the excessive debt to these countries - we would like to co-operate and make an effort to resolve these problems."

Peters says "in the long term does that mean we can help collectively? Well if we do it will be for far less than if we handled it separately."

Mr Peters was unclear whether or not China would be invited to be part of the proposed group for developments in the Pacific.