やしの実通信 by Dr Rieko Hayakawa




Q: What has the relationship between the US and Micronesia been like since the end of World War II?
A: It is widely known that for about 15 years after the war, until the John F. Kennedy administration came into power [Kennedy fought in the Pacific during World War II and his life was saved by two Solomon Islanders], the Micronesian region was “benign neglected”—but even US scholars are not sure that this is an appropriate description. The US not only neglected the region, but also conducted nuclear tests under a strict security regime. It was a report by a UN field inspection committee that revealed the terrible condition of US trusteeship. The Kennedy administration then launched a massive budgetary effort and Peace Corps deployment to redeem the Trusteeship.
The US military has always had an interest in Micronesia, which it calls a “strategic area”. In the 1970s, independence negotiations between the countries in the region and the United States continued. In the 1980s, the United States signed Compacts of Free Association (COFAs) with three countries in Micronesia, Palau, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. They are known as the Freely Associated States (FAS).
The COFA agreements with the FAS have hundreds of pages, unlike the few pages that New Zealand has with the Cook Islands and Niue. The COFAs aimed at ensuring US security, not the security of the people of Micronesia.
Some Micronesia high officials said, “Micronesia are not satisfied with the US level of involvement as well as terms. US calls it aid, but it’s not aid, it’s a partnership.”
And with the end of the Cold War, the United States suddenly disappeared from the region, just as they did in Afghanistan. When I started working on the Pacific island countries in 1991, there were many projects left that the US had lost interest in. One of them, PEACESAT, used a satellite provided free of charge by the US government, and operated by the University of Hawaii, for education and welfare, covering the entire PICs. The University of the South Pacific also used the same satellite, USPNet, to connect its 12-member island countries. In the 1990s, international communications were still limited and expensive. I was able to make USPNet an ODA project for the first Pacific Island Leaders Summit hosted by the Japanese government in 1997.