FISHERIES, tourism and development projects were on the agenda when Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in May.

Mr O’Neill said Japan presented a “tremendous opportunity for our fisheries sector,” adding that the companies were looking at ways to improve trade between the two countries.

“There are regional considerations we have to take into account in relation to fisheries and marine resources, so this is an ongoing discussion we will have with Japan as well as other island nations.”

The commerce and investment opportunities in Papua New Guinea were also the subject of discussion with business representatives from companies that included JX Nippon Oil and Sojitz Corporation, Marubeni Corporation.

“Japanese investment in our country continues to grow and this is employing more and more Papua New Guineans,” Mr O’Neill said.

“There is also increased opportunity for Papua New Guinea exports to Japan. As one of the strongest economies in the world, Japan is an important market for Papua New Guinea that we will continue to grow.”

The leaders also discussed new opportunities for trade and investment, as well as tourism – with Papua New Guinea looking to create new opportunities for Japanese people to visit.

“With Prime Minster Abe we have discussed establishing further memorials at important locations in Papua New Guinea,” Mr O’Neill said.

“Papua New Guinea is the final resting place for many Japanese war dead… we extend the courtesy for relatives to pay homage to their loved ones and ancestors.”

“In relation to broader tourism activities, we are discussing work for the upgrade and expansion of Tokoak airport. We hope this would lead to the possibility of direct flights from Japan to Rabaul.”

Mr Abe mentioned the possibility a ¥27 billion loan in support of airport construction during the talks, adding that he also intended to implement roughly ¥300 million of grant aid for disaster-reduction measures.

Mr O’Neill thanked Mr Abe for the company’s support for PNG infrastructure and cultural engagement projects with Japan.“

I took the opportunity to express our appreciation to Japan for a range of projects that include national road improvements, agricultural capacity building and programs to deal with the affects climate change,” Mr O’Neill said.

Mr Abe also invited Mr O’Neill and his wife, Linda Babao O’Neill, to visit Japan later this year, which he said was the 40th anniversary of Japan-PNG relations.

The Prime Ministers discussed the possibility of holding the first Joint Committee meeting under the Japan-Papua New Guinea investment treaty as part of the program for this visit.

They also discussed Mr Abe’s plan for the establishment of an annual United Nations World Tsunami Day on 25 November – with Mr O’Neill offering his complete support.

“This day would raise awareness amongst at-risk communities to prepare for the possibility of a tsunami and this will save lives,” he said.

“This day would also provide an opportunity to commemorate the lives lost to tsunamis in Japan, Papua New Guinea and right around the world.”

The 40 minute meeting took place in the city of Iwaki, in Fukushima, ahead of the seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7) Summit in Japan.

The PALM 7 Summit saw Japan commit a further ¥55 billion in development support to Pacific nations over the next three years – targeted at areas including the impact of global warming and natural disasters.

Attendees at the meeting committed to co-operation within the region in the areas of disaster risk reduction, climate change, environment, people-to-people exchanges, sustainable development, maritime issues and fisheries, and trade, investment and tourism.