Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says CARICOM leaders will seek opportunities for “partnership in development” when the first ever CARICOM-Japan Summit is held in Trinidad and on Monday.
Gonsalves, however, said the 15-member bloc is aware that Japan is lobbying for their support as the Asian heavyweight seeks to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, will meet with CARICOM leaders Monday morning, and then hold bilateral talks with each Head of Government.
A number of agreements are also to be signed.
“We are hoping that we can put together — individual countries and CARICOM as a whole — a programme for partnership in development, which will involve resources and also for us to collaborate together … to fight for peace and justice globally,” Gonsalves told reporters Saturday night.
This year marks 20 years of relations between CARICOM and Japan, and this would be the first visit to the region by a Prime Minister of Japan.
A number of events are slated to recognise this milestone, including the designation of 2014 as CARICOM-Japan Friendship Year, and the proposal to convene the Fourth CARICOM-Japan Foreign Ministers Meeting in Tokyo in November.
Gonsalves said Japan is canvassing for CARICOM’s support at the United Nations.
“… but they are not the only people who canvass to get a seat as non-permanent members of the Security Council.
“The fact that he has to leave from Japan to come to the Caribbean is indicative of the importance of the countries in the region on a number of matters,” Gonsalves further said.
He said Japan is a very strong candidate and “a very responsible country”.
He said Japan wants to enhance its own area of self-defence and have had a history of working in the Caribbean, particularly in the area of education and fisheries.
“I will like to see that broadened,” Gonsalves said, noting that of the developed countries, Japan has second largest economy after the United States.
“Of course, China, because of its size, of 1.5 billion people is number one, number two in the world, but Japan is a developed country, while China is not yet a developed country,” Gonsalves said.