PORT, OF SPAIN – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday pledged to launch new economic aid programs for the 14 member states of the Caribbean Community to continue support for the countries even after Japan’s official development assistance ends.
At the first summit meeting between Japan and the community dubbed CARICOM, Abe also mentioned the issue of a nation unilaterally trying to change the status quo by force, apparently with China in mind, and sought support for Tokyo’s bid for a nonpermanent seat in the U.N. Security Council election next year.
“There is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force and coercive pressure in some waters and air space of the world including Asia,” Abe said at the summit held in Trinidad and Tobago.
The new economic program seems intended to counter China’s recently growing influence over Caribbean countries. Beijing has diplomatic relations with nine of the 14 countries, with President Xi Jinping having paid a visit to Trinidad and Tobago last year.
Abe explained Japan’s policy of proactively contributing to global peace, security and prosperity, and reiterated Tokyo’s appeal to the international community to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international laws, and not by force or intimidation.
That is a message prompted by Beijing’s growing assertiveness over territorial disputes in the East and South China seas.
Prior to the meeting, Abe and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar agreed on Sunday to bolster cooperation in economic affairs, disaster mitigation and in other areas.
Abe also met with CARICOM chair Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and discussed strengthening economic and energy cooperation.
CARICOM comprises Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.