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Jump-starting Japan relationship
Next week’s visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Port-of-Spain—on the second leg of a fivenation tour of Latin America and the Caribbean—certainly cements T&T’s place as the diplomatic capital of the region.
The Japanese Prime Minister, who is visiting Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Brazil, along with T&T, from July 25 to August 2, is making an historic first trip by a Japanese leader to T&T.
Prime Minister Abe’s visit to T&T will obviously be seen in the context of the visits here last year by Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice President Joe Biden. But the real background to T&T’s leadership role—as the medium through which the world speaks to the 15 members of Caricom—is the hosting here in 2009 of the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Another signal of T&T’s leadership role was the fact that several Caribbean leaders accepted the T&T Prime Minister’s invitation to accompany her on the CAL aircraft to the funeral last year of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. The fact that world leaders come to Portof- Spain when they want to talk to the Caribbean should not be used by Trinidadians as a source of cheap, chest-beating, oneupmanship over our regional brothers and sisters.
Instead, in her talks with Prime Minister Abe, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar ought to embrace the role as the region’s goto leader by leveraging the renewed relationship with Japan to assist in the improvement of the economies of our Caribbean neighbours first.