Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at a Pacific island summit on Saturday a fresh aid package worth more than ¥55 billion over the next three years to help such nations deal with the impact of global warming and natural disasters.

Japan's pledge to improve the islands' resiliency at the two-day meeting in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, not only reflects its desire to cooperate with the resource-rich region over fisheries and maritime issues but also comes amid an increase in China's maritime assertiveness and economic clout there.

"What we should have are two-way relations that are . . . entirely free of threats using force or coercion. That is the order for a society of Pacific citizens," Abe said in unveiling a new vision for Tokyo's diplomacy toward the region, apparently with China in mind.