Tokyo: Japan has begun preparations for Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to visit the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and the Cook Islands in late March, the daily Yomiuri newspaper reported on Sunday citing several government sources.
The visit, expected to take place from March 18 to 22, comes after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands last year, prompting concern from the United States and Australia as China seeks to extend its influence in the region.
Hayashi intends to affirm the three islands states’ co-operation with a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, and is considering suggesting security co-operation as well, the report said.
He also plans to assuage concerns over the release of treated water from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant later this year, according to the Yomiuri.
Japan is set to release 1 million tonnes of water which would be filtered to remove most isotopes but would still contain traces of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen hard to separate from water, in a plan that has been deemed safe by regulators but has alarmed some Pacific Island nations.
Get a note directly from our foreign correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.