Japan on Friday gave formal recognition to the state of Niue, a self-governing Pacific island in free association with New Zealand, as the world’s third-largest economy seeks to boost its diplomacy in the Pacific.
“We intend to boost our relations with Niue through cooperation on the international stage,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference, announcing the decision ahead of a summit between Japan and the Pacific Islands Forum in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture next week.
Japan and China are both on a similar track in courting Pacific island nations.
Niue will attend the Pacific Islands Forum summit on May 22 and 23. The forum also includes Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
“The summit is a vital opportunity to boost our cooperation with Pacific island nations,” Kishida said.
Niue becomes the 195th state recognized by Tokyo. While it is not a member state of the United Nations, it is a member of 34 international organizations.
For now, the Japanese Embassy in New Zealand will handle Japan’s interests in Niue, the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo said.
Located some 2,400 km northeast of New Zealand, Niue has a population of around 1,500 and is a constitutional monarchy with an assembly.