RECOMMENDATION THAT THE UNITED STATES WORK WITH JAPAN TO SUPPORT THE AUSTRALIAN COMPACT WITH PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRIES
Dr. Rieko Hayakawa is a renowned scholar and expert with more than three decades experience assisting Pacific Island Countries from her bases in Japan and New Zealand. She is often consulted by both the Administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and United States Indo-Pacific Command based here in Hawaii. She is often requested to provide both facts and recommendations concerning multilateral security arrangements in the Pacific with a perspective on the benefits to small island nations and territories in this region.
David Ware is a retired United States Federal Officer with 42 years combined military and civilian service, most of it here in the Pacific Basin, including Philippines, Okinawa and Hawaii, along with multinational projects partnering with Australia, New Zealand and Japan, with experience focused upon border and national security from a Customs vantage point.
NOQ Report is honored to have been chosen by Dr. Hayakawa to publish her recommendations. The United States has a vested interest in the Pacific Ocean despite being founded as a Eurocentric nation centuries ago. Our country has benefited from the rich cultural diversity provided by our Pacific neighbors, a fact notably in evidence here at America’s Mid-Pacific Frontier, the 50th State, Hawaii.
As the descendant of both European immigrants and indigenous peoples of North America who predated them by millenia, as one married to a beautiful Asian lady for nearly 50 years, and as one with many decades of experience dealing with our friends in the Pacific on a level playing field, I wholeheartedly endorse United States cooperation both politically and militarily with our allies Australia and Japan to benefit the entire Indo-Pacific Theater.
Unfortunately there are many so-called American National Security Experts who totally fail to comprehend the significance of this region not only for our national security but for our credibility in the world. Apparently there are some inside the DC Beltway who are ready to virtually abandon the South China Sea and all of the Western Pacific to our adversary … nay … our outright enemy, the Chinese Communist Party. Any vacuum or void in this region is being quickly filled by The People’s Liberation Army both through their Navy and their Belt and Road Initiative / Debt-Trap Diplomacy.
I have previously written about this topic quite extensively in the past, but to summarize here, the United States has not only the 50th state of Hawaii here in the Pacific basin, but also the current territories of Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [CNMI] and American Samoa. We also are in the process of renegotiating Compacts of Free Association [CFA] with three Freely Associated States [FAS] ~ Palau, Federated States of Micronesia [FSM[ and Republic of the Marshall Islands [RMI].
There are indications that Admiral Phil Davidson and Indo-Pacific Command fully comprehend the importance of maintaining these relationships. It is hopeful, but less fully demonstrable, that the U.S. State and Interior Departments and the United States Congress are as cognizant of the issues involved. The White House National Security Council has begun to devote more due attention to this region, but to what extent is undetermined.
To put it in layman’s terms, Honolulu is 3,849 miles from Tokyo and 4,826 miles from Washington DC. We are only 5,224 miles from Canberra. There’s a reason Pearl Harbor is where it is. There’s also a reason Indo-PACOM is where it is and is not part of NORTHCOM.
Even without the considerations needed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, American interests are far better accomplished when we partner with our friends in Australia and Japan, with their proximity and shared geographic realities, to help small Pacific Island Countries as we together counter the aggression and hostile intent/actions of Xi Jinping and his mendacious regime in Beijing.
If Australia desires to grant citizenship or residency to citizens of Pacific Island Countries, that is totally in keeping with the procedure that the United States has with the Freely Associated States. Persons from Palau, FSM, and RMI may travel to and reside within the United States and our territories visa-free as long as they do not have a criminal record. That makes total sense for Australia to offer something similar in exchange for their management of the respective Exclusive Economic Zones [EEZ’s] of other Pacific Island Countries [PIC’s].
The United States and Japan have every good reason to support such an arrangement. Following is my colleague’s articulation from a Japanese perspective.
Compact for Pacific Islands
By Dr. Rieko Hayakawa
“Developing a Grand Compact for the Pacific” – When I saw this policy recommendation by Prof John Blaxland of the Australian National University, I was pleasantly stunned. This was because it was absolutely the same idea that I had been suggesting for the Pacific over the last decade. Such a suggestion has been seen by some as a positive, as demonstrated by the reaction from the former President of Kiribati, the Hon. Anote Tong:
“I think it would be an arrangement which would be difficult for most of the Pacific countries named to turn down.”
Of course, I found that there were also many objections to the idea of a compact, which included this as a form of neo-colonialism and against self-determination, etc. I am wondering whether these people who are against such a “compact” know that the Pacific Islands people really welcome or even demand this kind of political arrangement?
Begging, or right?
At this moment, three Micronesian countries, Palau, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, have a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. Both the Cook Islands and Niue have a Free Association with New Zealand.
What is a Compact?
This is the special political agreement between small states and a metropolitan country which is explained in U.N. Resolution 1541 (XV) Principle VI of 1960. Arrangements between countries are varied and modified reflecting the economical and political environment. Before the Trump administration, the U.S. government had totally lost their interest in their Freely Associated States [FAS]. This caused much anxiety in the region and I believe that this anxiety led the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] to intrude into the region.
I have been working for the Pacific for 30 years, and one of my friends who is a Pacific political leader told me:
“Rieko, shall we keep begging? Will our children and their children have to keep begging forever for assistance from overseas countries?”
I cannot forget this grief, and started thinking about what is self-determination, independence, colonization and the historical background of “Freely Associated States”. I have suggested to this Pacific lawmaker that Japan should have Free Association or a political friendship treaty with his country. Of course, he agreed and encouraged me to proceed. In developing assistance under a political compact there was no need to ‘beg’ from Japan, as under a compact, political agreement assistance becomes a “right” of their country.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS] and Pacific Island Countries [PICs]
Prof Blaxland’s proposal also argued about unmanageable, disproportional Exclusive Economic Zones [EEZ] and PICs, which is also exactly the same as I lectured on at the Japanese Member of Parliament Special Committee on PICs and Maritime Security in 2017. My lecture was triggered to the changing direction of the Indo-Pacific strategy with maritime security under the Abe administration.
I found many scholars misunderstood how small island states obtained such a huge ocean, but if you knew the history of the arguments during the 1970s conferences on UNCLOS, small islands demanded a huge ocean as their “territory” to become independent states. This was totally against the concept of Mare Liberum – Freedom of the Seas which was proposed by Hugo Grotius in 1609, and the customary law of global society. The EEZ is a sort of compromise among Mare Liberum and demands from developing countries.
The concept or ideology of enclosing natural resources was a reflection of the resources of nationalism and NIEO – New International Economic Order, in the ’60s to ’70s. We may need to examine whether national natural resources really helped economic independence and/or made people happy in small, developing states.
Japan and U.S. should support Australia “Step Up”
Japan and the U.S. should support a proposal for the Australian Compact with PICs and its “Step Up”. I would like to support Prof Blaxland’s proposal, but I also need to point out the limits of Australian “sea power”. Since I launched the Micronesian Sea-Surveillance Project in 2008, I have been closely observing Australia’s ocean security movement. Fortunately, I was lucky to have in my study group the Australian Senator, the late Hon. Russell Trood who was the Chair of Pacific Economic and Security Committee, as well as a leading security expert, Dr Anthony Bergin, from Australian Strategic Policy Institute [ASPI].
Australia made enormous efforts for the security of the Pacific Ocean since the ’70s when the EEZ became a reality. However, in 2008, the Royal Australian Navy [RAN] which was principally responsible for the Pacific maritime security declared that “chasing fish is not a military responsibility”. I found that Australia’s sea power was limited. The number of personnel of RAN is just the same as the Japanese Coast Guard. Australia does not have a Coast Guard but a small capacity of border protection. With this limited capacity, they have to look after a large coastline and larger number of illegal immigrants who come by boats.
Looking after PICs’ oceans for them is just unrealistic. I agreed that Australia will make a political agreement, i.e., Compact with PICs, such as Kiribati which does not have any political status with any other metropolitan country. However, Japan and the U.S. who have the sea power need to help Australia “Step Up”.
- John Blaxland on Developing a Grand Compact for the Pacific
- Former Kiribati president weighs in on proposal for Grand Compact for Pacific
FINAL NOTE FROM AMERICA
President Donald Trump along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Scott Morrison should be fully briefed by their respective Secretary of State and Foreign Ministers on the relevance and importance of a timely consideration and approval of this proposed Australian Compact with Pacific Island Countries. Oceania is a current battleground for influence by our three countries along with New Zealand ~ and more remote allies including U.K., France and India ~ on the one side and China on the other. The CCP is not constrained by any kind of domestic debate as unilateral decisions are made and implemented instantaneously.
Without being distracted by the current health crisis, we need to address security and credibility issues in the Pacific immediately. Both chambers of the United States Congress ~ Senate and House of Representatives ~ need to work out the logistics of holding sessions and hearings now, whatever social distancing considerations they may have.
The world is not on hold! It is still on the line awaiting our response!
Check out the NEW NOQ Report Podcast.