Can Japan count on the Pacific islands countries (PICs) to support its regional strategy? The short answer is, it is doubtful. The PICs perceive themselves as being in a one-way relationship wherein Japan exists to assist the PICs with their limitations. Trust in the PICs is based on expression of generosity understood as not only what one receives from a relationship, but also on what one gives back to it. Consequently, in its current form the relationship between Japan and the PICs is not structured to engender trust.

Moreover, the PICs have a shared foreign policy of "friends to all and enemy to none," and supporting Japan may place the PICs in the role of "enemy" to other countries. These limitations notwithstanding, Japan and the PICs must work together to coordinate their approaches to important regional issues, such as how to deal with the rise of China and North Korea's nuclear weapons development.

PIC perceptions of their relationship with Japan as being unidirectional are long-standing. Japan took the initiative to develop its relationship with the PICs as a group through the establishment of the summit-level Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) in 1997.