It was President Litokwa Tomeing of the Marshall Islands who approached Japan with a request for assistance in the development of their oceans. I lobbied for his visit to Japan as well as his request for Ocean development (before his visit to Japan).
At the time, the request was for a "maritime development" project, but it was turned into a security project, the Micronesian Maritime Security Project, at the suggestion of Mr Jiro Hanyu, a former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
Neither Hanyu nor Yohei Sasakawa knew anything about maritime issues, the socio-economy, international politics or security in the Pacific or Micronesia, and they asked me to teach them. In fact, that's how this blog got started. I have to admit that I was grateful to Mr Hanyu for trusting me with the whole project, even though he harassed me in many cases. I did not inform him that it was I who had set the basic agenda for Micronesia's maritime project. I wanted to use this bureaucrat from Tokyo University as a pawn. It was better to let him think he was taking the lead.
I was anxious and hesitant to set up a security project in the maritime field, which was also an unknown field to me. On the other hand, for 20 years I had been involved in telecommunication projects, which is also in the middle of security, so I was confident that if I moved, the project would move. I was determined that if I take action, the security regime in the Pacific would change dramatically. In 2008, I laid the foundations for countering China's now globally recognised expansion into the Western Pacific. Looking back, I am glad I did.
In May 2008, I was invited to a meeting of the President, Vice-President, Chief of Staff and Minister of Transport and Communications of the Federated States of Micronesia. The meeting to discuss the results of my persistent support for the reform of Micronesia's telecommunication regime in the wake of the IT Charter announced at the Okinawa G8 Summit in 2000. The Government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has decided to deregulate its telecommunications regime after years of monopoly. Deregulation has led to the emergence of a number of foreign companies interested in the FSM telecommunications industry, and to the existence of a submarine telecommunications cable connecting Kwajalein to Guam.
I won't go into the details of the discussion, but after it was over, I was asked to speak.
"Mr President, I am delighted with the outcome. It has been a privilege to provide you with side support over the years. By the way, we are looking into the possibility of supporting maritime security."
"Maritime security? Rieko, we have a lot of requests on our agenda. Go ahead. But we are bound by an agreement with the US and we can't go ahead without their permission."
This refers to the Free Association Agreement with the US. It is essentially a security agreement. The key is the United States, and it is the same in telecommunications.
"Thank you very much, Mr President, I'll be contacting Palau and the Marshall Islands, and share your advice."
How did it all go so smoothly? Because I had the opportunity to support the telecommunications sector for many years, and the President welcomed the results. There was a big chance that Telecommunication policy reform would not work. The President knew that I understood the needs and politics of Micronesia, and that I had a proven track record, and he trusted me. I am grateful for that.
After this, I continued to negotiate with the Palau government. It was there that I met Commander Keating of the Pacific Command.
The President Office in Palikir, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia, May 2008.
From left to right: Vice-President Alik, Minister of Transport and Communications Itimai, the author, President Mori and Assistant to the President Mida.