May 2008. After receiving an unofficial endorsement from President Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia, I contacted an old acquaintance, His Excellency Billy Kuartei. At the time, he was the Chief of Staff of the President of Palau. I had known him since the 1990s, when he was Minister of Education, and we had had quite a detailed exchange on distance education projects, telecommunication, and satellite projects.
The Hon. Kuartei was in Hawaii for talks with the US on the Free Association Agreement. I asked an acquaintance of mine, Dr. Brendan Barrett of the United Nations University, to set up a video conference for me in August 2008.
"Hon Kuartei, we are considering supporting maritime security in the Micronesian region. President Mori is positive. What do you think?"
"Rieko, I just had a meeting with Commander Keating now, and we were talking about it. I'll talk to my President and put it on the agenda for the next Micronesian Presidential Summit."
There was no way for Commander Keating to know what I was doing, and I wondered what he was talking about, but he insisted that I leave it to him, so I did. At any rate, as President Mori pointed out, the Micronesian region is the backyard of the United States, as a strategic region. In particular, security matters need to be done with the approval of the United States, and within its reach. There was hope that the three Micronesian nations would be able to coordinate with the United States on our - Japan project.
Three months later, at the Micronesian Presidential Summit in November 2008, the project was approved without a hitch, as a formal request from three Micronesia countries and thereafter project started and proceed.
The Micronesia Presidential summit was held in Pohnpei, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia, and was chaired by Palau. It was the last day of the Remengesau administration's second term, and President Mori of FSM delegated Chair position to Remengesau.
After that, I lost contact with Hon. Kuartei for about three years, and finally when I met him in Palau we exchanged information for several hours.
Since I had learned a little more than three years ago, we talked about the background of the Allied Forces and the establishment of the Japan Coast Guard after the war, Article 25 of the Coast Guard Act, and law ships, war ships, and then we talked about Commander Keating.
At the intergovernmental meeting in Hawaii, Commander Keating and his team told the Palauan government delegation that:
"We need Japan to protect the vast Pacific Ocean. Only Japan has the power and money in this region. But they won't help us. Why not? Because we have tied their hands and feet."
That's what they were saying.
Shortly thereafter, Hon. Kuartei was asked via videoconference if Japan would be willing to consider supporting maritime security in Micronesia. He was an aide to the President. How could this not come to mind? The US wants Japan involved. Who could argue with that?
But there was one country that was adamantly opposed. It was Australia.