The United States, Japan, Australia and other like-minded democracies have been active in supporting submarine telecommunication cables linking the Pacific island countries. This is against a challenging international order, and in particular the military security challenges posed by China. However, 50 years ago, free satellite communications services were provided to Pacific island countries with support from the United States, Australia, Britain, New Zealand and Japan. The United States provided used satellites free of charge and launched PEACESAT (Pan Pacific Education and Communication Experiments by Satellite), operated by the University of Hawaii, and USPNet, operated by the University of the South Pacific, which has its main campus in Fiji. It was a challenge to the communication divide that existed at that time, which was far from the concept of universal service due to the cost of the monopolistic communication system left by the former sovereign countries. The history of the time shows that the people of the Pacific island countries did not passively accept the information and communication technologies and policies of the developed countries, but showed a strong "political will" of their own.
Although PEACESAT was operated as an "experiment" and is no longer in operation, the legacy of PEACESAT to the Oceania region has yet to be verified. Even with the loss of the satellite and the physical information and communication network, the memory of PEACESAT remains strong in the minds of those who were involved in the project, especially in the Pacific Island countries. The memory lives on as experience and political will in information and communications technology and policy, and has been the driving force behind the further development of the communications environment.
On the other hand, the University of the South Pacific's USPNet is still going strong, having decided to use independent commercial satellites, neither local telecoms companies, nor free second-hand satellites after a decade of using. USPNet is keep developing and playing an important role in the Oceania region, where a large youth population, and therefore education, is becoming increasingly important. The decision to reject the use of the existing monopoly telecommunication company was based on the fact that the telecommunication company's service was unreliable, unstable and expensive for university operation and education. The University of the South Pacific is a regional organisation with 12 member states spread across Oceania (Fiji, Samoa, Nauru, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Marshall Islands). The Minister of Education of each country is a member of the University Governing Board. The Ministers of Education of each of these island countries made a political decision to change the national telecommunications regulations and to build the University of the South Pacific's own telecommunications network using commercial satellites. It should be pointed out that this is due to the philosophy behind the founding of the University of the South Pacific in 1968: “The University should have an Extra-mural Department to enable it to carry university studies to towns and villages through the Region, and to promote understanding of and affection for the University in the people of distant areas”.
The author is the only person in the world directly involved in supporting the maintenance and development of these two networks, USPNet and PEACESAT, for more than 10 years from 1991. Therefore, this paper will also describe Japan's involvement in these two projects from the standpoint of how the Japanese government became involved, or rather, how author had created these pathways.
At the end of the 1980s, with the end of the Cold War, military competition between the United States and the Soviet Union diminished. Japan was not allowed to develop military technology due to constitutional restrictions, but there were discussions about developing satellite technology for international cooperation. In the wake of the 1992 International Space Year, 300 PEACESAT and USPNet officials from 26 Oceania countries and regions gathered at Tohoku University in Japan to discuss policy of PEACSAT, with the support of the then Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications which was in charge of satellite R&D and a grant foundation. As a result, the current Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started to develop its own satellites to support the education, health and welfare of developing countries of Asia-Pacific. This led to Japan's current satellite technology.
Separately, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) held the first Pacific Island Summit in Tokyo in 1997 in response to the South Pacific Forum's (now Pacific Islands Forum) criticism of the plutonium shipments that began in 1992. In advance, the Secretary General of the South Pacific Forum and the then Chairman of the Forum, the President of the Marshall Islands, President Kabua, were invited by the Japanese Government and used the opportunity to pass on to the Japanese Government a draft application for an upgrade of USPNet. Why did the South Pacific Forum, and President Kabua, request USPNet's assistance to Japan? Because there was a clear political will of the people of the island countries.
Japan's role did not end here. The second Pacific Island Summit in 2000 was held in conjunction with the G8 Okinawa Summit, and the main topic of discussion was the digital divide, known as the IT Charter. This led to information and communication reforms in the Pacific island countries: the introduction of deregulation and competition with support from the ADB and UNDP; BRICS of the ITU had ambitions for internet governance rather US monoply; and the development of a US interceptor missile base in the Marshall Islands and a base on Guam to counter the North Korean missile threat which laying of submarine communications cables between the Marshall Islands and Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia. In addition, this paper will analyze and discuss the issue of overcoming the digital divide through WiFi technology built by a new entrepreneur called Digicel and the new challenges of cyber security and virtual currencies, reflecting the perspectives of the island countries and the dynamics of international politics.