Japan “closely monitoring” Solomon Islands-China pact: minister
Japan said Sunday it has been “closely monitoring” the security pact signed last year between the Solomon Islands and China that could see the Chinese military station forces in the South Pacific nation.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Honiara, also expressed Japan’s view on how the island country can “achieve long-term development while maintaining autonomy,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Sogavare explained his nation’s stance to Hayashi, saying peace and stability of the region is most important, according to the ministry.
China and the Solomon Islands signed a security agreement in April that reportedly allows Beijing to deploy its military and dock vessels in the islands.
While Sogavare has denied such reports, the deal has fueled concern among other countries about China’s increasing military and economic clout in the area.
The Solomon Islands broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switched to China in 2019.
Hayashi said Tokyo will promote “transparent and inclusive” cooperation with Pacific island countries to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” the ministry said, referring to a vision advocated by Japan and the United States in a veiled counter to China’s maritime assertiveness.
Hayashi also met with his counterpart Jeremiah Manele earlier in the day, saying that Japan is prepared to offer the Solomon Islands further assistance in fields such as maritime security, according to the ministry.
Hayashi is on a five-day trip to the Southern Pacific from Saturday that also takes him to the Cook Islands.