Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori makes his debut on the world stage today by hosting a summit involving Japan and South Pacific island nations and territories in the city of Miyazaki.

For Mori, the second Japan-South Pacific Forum Summit is the first international conference he has hosted since he took office earlier this month after his predecessor, Keizo Obuchi, suffered a massive stroke.

The one-day summit — the Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM) 2000 — was an idea Obuchi had proposed in a meeting in December in Tokyo with SPF Chairman and Palau President Kunio Nakamura.

The city is also scheduled to host a meeting of Group of Eight foreign ministers on July 12 and July 13.

Okinawa will then host the G8 summit from July 21 to July 23.

When they get together today, the island leaders are expected to address issues such as sustainable development, common objectives and enhanced partnership between Japan and the SPF, Japanese officials said.

The officials also said the PALM gathering will allow Mori to hear opinions from around the region so he can reflect them at the G8 summit.

The 16-member SPF consists of Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, as well as Niue and the Cook Islands under New Zealand’s administration.

Australia and New Zealand are represented by their foreign ministers, while non-SPF New Caledonia, which is a French territory, will take part as an observer.

On Friday, Mori met with Nakamura and the two leaders reaffirmed that they plan to ensure the Japan-SPF summit is a success.

On the eve of the second Japan-SPF summit, Mori told Nakamura at his Official Residence in Tokyo that Japan wants to issue a “bright message aimed at the common future of Japan and the SPF” at the talks, a Japanese official said.

Expressing his appreciation for Japan’s efforts to prepare for the summit, Nakamura expressed his confidence in Mori’s chairmanship for the talks, the official said.

Foreign Minister Yohei Kono held a series of meetings with his counterparts from Papua New Guinea and New Zealand the same day.

During talks with PNG Foreign Minister John Kaptin, Kono conveyed Japan’s intention to consider new yen-denominated loans to the country to support its structural economic reforms, a separate Japanese official said.

Kono then exchanged views with his New Zealand counterpart, Phil Goff, on bilateral relations, the situation in East Timor, reform of the United Nations Security Council and preservation of whales and tuna in the South Pacific, the official said.

Kono and Goff clashed over long-standing disputes on Japan’s whaling, tuna catches and shipments of nuclear fuel.

But they agreed not to allow their differing opinions to overshadow the otherwise sound relations between the two nations, the official added.

“We should be able to resolve disputes through dialogue, given our good relations,” Kono was quoted as saying.

Goff stressed that countries with sound ties do not necessarily agree on all issues, the official said.