President Mori is treated to a red carpet reception as he arrives
by chartered jet for the Young PALM in Miyakojima, Okinawa
complete with a symphonic band.
May 26, 2012 Okinawa, Japan—Sitting in his top floor suite at the Five Star Busena Terrace Resort in Nago, Okinawa we asked FSM’s President Manny Mori whether he felt a sense of obligation to the Japanese government for their luxurious treatment of Pacific Island leaders during the PALM 6 summit. With one hour to go before the opening of the summit it was an important question at an important moment. “I don’t feel a sense of obligation but a sense of gratitude that Japan wants to continue to engage in the Pacific region,” he said. “PALM is a very healthy exercise that takes place every three years and this year was even better and more important because of the grass roots movement of the Young Palm,” he said. He was referring to the Young Palm that took place in Miyakojima, Okinawa, an island one hour south by plane from Okinawa’s big island.
The culmination of that meeting took place on the previous day (see coverage on page 12) Pacific Island Nations each sent two young representatives to the Young Palm, the FSM was no exception. We commented on the colorful Aloha shirt he would be wearing to the summit. The Japanese government even gave the leaders the shirts on their backs. “The Japanese are very smart,” he said. “They gave us shirts like we wear at home so that we would be comfortable. They wanted us in an environment where we would be comfortable.” While some invited Pacific Island Journalists were able to cover the bilateral meetings of their heads of State the meeting between the FSM and Prime Minister Noda took place while journalists were in another city. We asked him about the meeting and what was discussed there. He laughed, shook his head, and said that he guessed he pulled a little gaff during that meeting and embarrassed the Prime Minister. The bilateral meeting was being filmed for television and p h o t o g r a p h e d for newspapers in Japan and the representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had asked him not to present any gifts particularly since the Prime Minister was not prepared to reciprocate. “But it was just a simple gift,” he chuckled. He said that he handed the Prime Minister two ropes and when he looked confused he tied them off and presented the tied rope back to the Prime Minister as an illustration of Kizuna, the ties that bind friends together. He said he thought it was a good illustration but the people from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs weren’t very happy.
“I just don’t want to be coached too much,” he said. We talked for a moment about U.S. involvement in the PALM process for the first time. “The FSM welcomes the involvement of the U.S. as one of our major partners.” President Mori has been called on to speak about U.S. involvement and that he will speak positively. He said that not all Forum Island Countries agree that the U.S. should be part of the Summit. He also said that if the FSM were to look at the minutia; the everyday interaction with the U.S.; the everyday dollars and cents it can be irritating. “
Emperor Akihito greets FSM President Manny Mori
But when we look at the bigger picture, the FSM has an excellent relationship with the U.S.” he said. He said that one of the things that the FSM brings to PALM 6 is the fact that the FSM has one of the four biggest fishing grounds in the Pacific. In advance of the meeting he said that he would be focusing his attentions particularly on people-topeople exchanges like businesses and development partners. He pointed out the Micronesia Registration Advisors as an excellent example of FSM businesses partnering with Japanese businesses. In terms of donor relations President Mori said that the FSM is not good at handling assistance from donors. “RMI and Palau handle it easy but in the FSM, the strong position of the States makes it very difficult to deal with aid packages,” he lamented.
“The FSM needs to be strategic in our relationship without our donors.” He announced that there will be a meeting in Pohnpei in November with all of FSM’s leaders and the representatives from all of the donor countries. He said that the intention is to try to iron out some of the difficulties the FSM has in dealing with outside assistance. He wants to see the FSM pursue and deal with aid packages along the lines of the Strategic D e v e l o p m e n t Plan. When asked if he thought that g o v e r n m e n t a l corruption plays a part in the difficulty in accepting aid in the FSM President Mori shook his head. “Am I going to say that there is no corruption in the FSM? Of course not! There was corruption even in Heaven by the devil. But is there no corruption in the United States? Yes, there is corruption there.” He said that he thinks that the FSM should really concentrate more on National Unity and then there came a knock on the door and it was time for the President and his staff members to leave for the opening of PALM 6.