Project marks first infrastructure aid for free and open Indo-Pacific under Suga
TOKYO — Japan, the U.S. and Australia will finance the connection of a submarine internet cable to the Pacific island nation of Palau, Nikkei has learned, in a project meant as a counterweight to China’s growing economic influence in the region.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is expected to announce the financial support Wednesday in a video message with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne at an international forum held in Vietnam.
Palau’s fiber-optic cable project is the first three-way cooperation on infrastructure under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga aimed at promoting a so-called free and open Indo-Pacific.
The cable will branch off from the main trans-Pacific deep sea line being built by a consortium of American companies to connect the U.S. mainland with Singapore. Work on the 170-km offshoot begins next year at a cost of roughly $30 million.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and other government lenders will provide joint financing for the project. Japanese technology group NEC is involved in construction of the main undersea cable and may win a contract for the Palau branch as well.