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Japan, Trinidad and Tobago eye stronger ties

Kyodo

Japan and Trinidad and Tobago have agreed to bolster cooperation in areas ranging from the economy to disaster prevention as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the resource-rich Caribbean country Sunday on the second leg of his Latin America trip.

During talks with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Abe said Japan is considering a new framework to help Trinidad and Tobago and deal with environmental issues. Caribbean countries are especially prone to hurricanes.

Abe then sought support for Tokyo’s 2015 bid for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a Japanese official said.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, Abe asked Persad-Bissessar to open an embassy in Japan. She said she would raise the issue with her foreign minister.

Abe is on a five-nation tour of Latin America, where Beijing’s influence is growing. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Trinidad and Tobago, which is rich in such natural resources as gas and oil, to expand economic cooperation.

Prior to Japan’s first meeting with the 14 member states of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, Abe held talks to bolster economic and energy cooperation with its chairman, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, as well as Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

On the issue of Japan’s whaling, which it claims is for scientific purposes, Browne expressed hope that Japan will work together with Antigua and Barbuda at the International Whaling Commission, a Japanese official said.

Antigua and Barbuda’s stance on whaling is similar to Japan’s.

After the IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling took force in 1986, Japan continued hunting under government-set quotas, saying that collecting scientific data is necessary for sustainable use of whale resources.

In March, however, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to end its whaling in the Antarctic Ocean because it isn’t scientific. While the ruling did not apply to whaling in the Pacific Ocean, it was expected to deal a blow to Japan’s whaling industry, which has drawn strong criticism from Western countries.