Japan pledges $453mn to Paciifc islands to combat climate change
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged $453 mn in aid to Pacific island nations to help them combat climate change and natural disasters, on Saturday. Abe made the pledge at Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM), a two-day gathering of leaders of 14 Pacific island nations in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture which began on Friday.
"As a pledge of the Japanese government, we will provide no less than 55 bn Yen ($453 mn) to you in the upcoming three years...in order to foster resilient capabilities that will not be defeated by climate change or disasters," Abe said in the meeting.
The seventh round of PALM came as host Japan attempts to boost its profile in the Pacific, just when Chinese economic and political influence is growing in the region. Senior officials from regional powers including Australia, New Zealand, as well as the United States attended the triennial meet.
Pacific island leaders have long complained about rising sea levels eroding their coastlines and of the increasing severity and frequency of extreme climate phenomena, such as super-typhoons, likely caused by global warming. They have pushed developed nations, responsible for most of the emissions associated with global warming, to extend help to cope with damage brought by harsh climate patterns.
In the previous PALM round in 2012, Japan pledged up to $500 mn over a period of three years to the members, focused on damage mitigation efforts. Japan decided to host the 2015 conference in Iwaki in southern Fukushima, to highlight the devastation caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and the region's subsequent reconstruction. The city is far enough from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactors, to prevent exposure of the guests to harmful radiation, but it still serves as a grim reminder of the world's worst atomic accident in a generation.
Recently, in March, a severe tropical cyclone-Pam killed 11 people in Vanuatu, which sustained winds of more than 250kmph, affecting about 166,600 inhabitants. Ahead of the conference, Japan recognized a tiny island nation-Niue as a sovereign state. The nation is perched some 2,400km northeast of New Zealand, with 1,611 inhabitants.
Ghislaine Maxwell, is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday for her December conviction for helping her then-boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, the globe-trotting financier and convicted sex offender, abuse girls between 1994 and 2004. Prosecutors say she deserves between 30 and 55 years in prison. She told psychology staff she was not suicidal. Prosecutors said the jail's warden will oversee an investigation. Maxwell wants less than 20 years, arguing she is being scapegoated for Epstein's crimes.
World leaders mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin's tough-man image at a G7 lunch in Germany on Sunday, joking about whether they should strip down to shirtsleeves -- or even less. "Jackets on? Jackets off? Do we take our coats off?" The leaders -- from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union -- pondered the dilemma. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson interjected: "We've got to show them our pecs."
South African police are investigating the deaths of at least 20 people at a nightclub in the coastal town of East London early Sunday. “At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death,” said health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana. Police Minister Bheki Cele was on Sunday morning expected to visit the scene. The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early Sunday morning.
Politicians representing a parliamentary majority on Saturday voiced support for a bill enshrining abortion rights in France's constitution, after the US Supreme Court revoked the nationwide legal protection for American people to terminate pregnancies. The landmark ruling by the conservative-majority court on Friday overturned almost five decades of constitutional protections for abortion in the United States, allowing individual states to regulate the procedure. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the government would support the bill “wholeheartedly”.
US President Joe Biden announced on Sunday a G7 project to rival China's Belt and Road Initiative by raising some $600 billion for global infrastructure programmes in poor countries. “Together with G7 partners, we aim to mobilise $600 billion by 2027 in global infrastructure investments,” the White House said shortly ahead of a speech by Biden unveiling the proposal.