Auckland – Japan and New Zealand expressed displeasure over China ensnaring the “island nations” in the Pacific region into debt traps, and arrived at a consensus on creating a strategic alliance for helping them. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is on a visit to New Zealand where he met with his counterpart, the Defence Minister of New Zealand and also Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Australia, Japan, India and New Zealand along with the United States have initiated strong efforts to curb the increasing Chinese domination in the Indo Pacific region. At the beginning of this year, a senior Australian minister had hit out at China’s interference in the Pacific region. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, the then Australian Minister for International Development had warned that China had disbursed nearly $2 billion to eight island nations in the Pacific region and the consequences the nations would have to face at the time of debt repayment, would be unpredictable.
Subsequently, the United States, Japan and Australia had indicated of forming a front to counter the Chinese influence in the Pacific region. New Zealand too had declared the Pacific Reset Policy and announced an allocation of an additional $500 million for the countries in the region. In view of these events, the Japanese Foreign Minister’s visit is considered significant. It is the first visit by a Japanese Foreign Minister to New Zealand in the last five years.
The Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono clarified the discussions with Prime Minister Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters included China, the Pacific region and North Korea. Ministers of both the countries asserted that Japan and New Zealand would take an initiative to jointly help the countries in the Pacific region. Also, the Japanese Foreign Ministry praised New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ardern for taking a positive stand for establishing strategic cooperation with Japan.