太平洋島諸国・国際政治講座

The New Relations between the Pacific Island Nations and Japan in the Age of Globalization

2.Characteristic of the Recent International Situation Affecting the Pacific Island Nations
(1) The End of the Cold War

During the Cold War, especially in its final stages, the struggle for power between the U.S. and the Soviet Union extended its influence to the PINs and consequently the Western countries became seriously concerned about the Soviet influence affecting the region. Now, since the fall of the Soviet Union, the South Pacific is no longer the arena for power struggle between the two superpowers. The fact that the United Nations Strategic Trusteeship System, with the U.S. as trustee, came to an end with the independence of the Republic of Palau in 1994 (admitted to the UN on December 15th of the same year) and terminated its role in history is symbolic of this change in international situation. Of course, U.S. naval bases and test sites for missiles, as well as disposal sites for chemical weapons (poisonous gas) etc. still remain scattered throughout the Pacific Islands. The islands have not lost their position as "strategic" points in a broad sense of the term, as can be seen in the fact that when a unit of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces was dispatched to Honduras to assist in disaster relief, they used the U.S. air base in Guam as well as Kwajalein of the Republic of the Marshall Islands as relay points. Nevertheless, one can say that the formula in which the PINs obtained financial support from the United States (and its allies) in exchange for their military and strategic value has lost much of its value. The fact that the compact money offered by the United States to the former Trusteeship countries is about to expire clearly illustrates this point.

(2) Change in the "North-South Problem"

Along with the end of the Cold War, the philosophy behind economic assistance also began to change. The World Bank, the IMF and individual donors who consist of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD began to emphasize more than ever economic efficiency and to evaluate assistance policies based on the possibility of integration into the global capitalist economic system. The economies of developing nations are on the brink of either being washed by the great waves of globalization, or being left behind and "marginalized". Some of the Southeast Asian Nations and the Republic of Korea are recent examples of the former and were pressured into rapidly reforming their various domestic systems as they were integrated more deeply into the global market system. On the other hand, many of the sub-Saharan African countries, for example, are confronted with the crisis of "marginalization". The PINs with their many disadvantages, such as their geographic distance from centers of the world economy and the small scale of their market, face the new challenge of discovering their own style of existence in this flood of globalization. The key point will be whether they can uncover a unique niche, turning the usually disadvantageous characteristics of the island nations into advantages.

Globalization is also affecting the PINs in another sense. Global warming and the resulting rise in the sea level are threatening the very existence of many of the islands. This phenomenon tells us more eloquently than anything else about the fact that the problem of the PINs is symbolic of the frailty of human society as a whole in face of the environmental deterioration.

(3) Growing Regionalism

Another conspicuous trend in international relations in recent years is the tendency towards regional cooperation on various levels, ranging from small to large-scale cooperation. Small island nations in the Caribbean and the Pacific basin are also faced with the challenge of responding to this tendency.

In the case of the Caribbean, it is natural that the island countries are interested in the plan of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which attempts to link North America with Hispanic America. Their first summit meeting was held in 1994, followed by a second in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998 and the plan was set to be realized by the year 2005 at the latest. At the summit was discussed the issue of regional cooperation in the following four areas:

(1) improving an educational environment,
(2) enhancing democracy and human rights,
(3) eradicating poverty and social discrimination, and
(4) promoting economic integration and free trade.

The Caribbean countries were among the 34 countries participating in the Santiago summit. However, the Caribbean countries seem to be opting for a foreign economic policy focused primarily on strengthening trade relations among themselves and/or with other Hispanic American countries. Furthermore, they place priority in improving their status through already existing channels----strengthening the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), requesting equality within the framework of the North Atlantic Free Trade Area (NAFTA), promoting economic relations with Canada and the MERCOSUR (the southern common market) countries, and above all extending the Lom

As for the PINs, there is not as much of a variety in options as in the case of the Caribbean; nevertheless they have access to various cooperation frameworks through several channels. Besides the older methods of maintaining and strengthening relations with the European countries and with Australia and New Zealand through the Lom

*2: "Little hope in trade pact", The Business Authority, Barbados, March 30, 1998; "CARICOM seeks longer transition periods into FTAA", The Broad Street Journal, Barbados, April 8, 1998.
The New Relations between the Pacific Island Nations and Japan
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