Palau Official Travel Protocols
There was a story in the Palau Horizon recently about some OEK Members going to Japan. Ambassador Ueki wrote a letter to the President about travel protocols for Government officials. I have posted the text of three letters about this issue. One from Ambassador Ueki, one from Delegate Isechal, and the President’s letter.
Letter from Ambassador Ueki to the President
July 13, 2009
His Excellency Mr. Johnson Toribiong
President of the Republic of Palau
Office of the President ROP
Capital Executive Building
Ngerulmud, Republic of Palau 96939
Dear Mr. President;
As Palau Ambassador to Japan it is my paramount duty to work for development of close and friendly relations between Japan and Palau, and to maintain, in all respect, our diplomatic relations with the Government of Japan. Doing this requires that I must be accountable for the conduct of all government officials who visit Japan for official meetings with Japanese government officials. It is my duty to make sure that officials observe proper diplomatic protocols when dealing with Japan and representations in the name of the Republic of Palau, which I believe is in line with policies of your administration. Moreover, since Palau constitution places powers and responsibilities for the conduct of foreign affairs on the President, any or all purported official trip to Japan must be made through Ministry of State, which will inform Palau Embassy in Japan.
Since my arrival in May, I have observed instances whereby members of our national congress arrive in Tokyo, unannounced, not going through Ministry of State to seek audience with Japanese government officials. I suppose such prerogative to initiate dialogue with foreign country officials is rightfully within legislative power, however; it should still be exercised with due regard to established diplomatic protocols. To disregard or to breach such protocols, I believe, will imperil our national credibility and integrity.
We have instances where Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs inquire Palau Embassy in Japan for information regarding status of certain government officials visiting Japan because they use a private Japanese individual to arrange meeting with high government officials or meetings with special committee of parliament members. For example, the article in Palau Horizon about members of OEK meeting with members of the Japan – Palau Parliamentary League of Japanese Diet.
Palau Embassy was neither informed by Palau Ministry of State nor by the OEK. In fact, Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked us if we knew about the visit. Embarrassingly, Palau Embassy did not know anything about their visit which included a Former President of the Republic of Palau, Senator Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed us that Palau OEK Delegation was requesting to meet with Japan – Palau Parliamentary League of the Diet through certain Japanese private individual.
This may have been an accepted practice in the past but I must strongly recommend mat ii be discontinued. I believe aii the official trips to Japan must be made through your Ministry of State with notice to Japan Embassy in Palau and Palau Embassy in Japan. Palau Embassy then makes necessary notification and arrangement with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Japanese Government. I believe the procedure is relevant for all foreign governments, but, it is especially critical for highly bureaucratic Government of Japan.
All government entities must understand to follow proper protocol and procedure when visiting Japan on official business. It must be made clear to all that your Ministry of State is the official window through which Palau Government communicates with foreign governments officially and diplomatically.
Dr. Minoru F. X. Ueki
cc Minister of State
8th OEK Senate
8th OEK House of Delegates
This was Delegate Isechal’s response letter to the President
July 22, 2009
His Excellency Johnson Toribiong
President of the Republic of Palau
P.O. Box 6051
Ngerulmud, Melekeok State
Republic of Palau 96939
Dear President Toribiong:
It was with dismay that I read a letter written to you by Dr. Minoru F. X. Ueki, Palau’s Ambassador to Japan, regarding a trip I made to Japan in late June to attend the Japan-Palau Parliamentary Friendship League meeting. Dr. Ueki’s letter was published in the July 21, 2009 edition of the Island Times, and was also the subject of an article in the July 21-23, 2009 edition of the Palau Horizon.
As you know, Senator Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., Delegate Celestine Yangilmau, and myself were invited to attend the Japan-Palau Parliamentary Friendship League meeting by Mr. Takeshi Kamimoto. By all accounts, the meeting was quite successful. Indeed, when Mr. Masayuki Takashima, the Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Japan in Palau recently addressed the House of Delegates, Eighth Olbiil Kelulau, he remarked of the trip, “[i]t is most welcome to see another exchange of parliamentarians between Japan and Palau. We would like to see further exchange of parliamentary members to strengthen our bilateral relationship.”
Dr. Ueki’s letter contains certain statements that are inaccurate and/or misleading, and I would like to take this opportunity to provide an accurate record. First, Dr. Ueki states we requested meetings with the Japan-Palau Friendship Parliamentary League of the Diet. I must stress that this is a false statement. We were deeply honored to be invited to meet with Seishiro Eto, Ways and Means Committee Chairman of the House of Representatives, Diet, Masatoshi Wakabayashi, Fisheries Committee Chairman of the Upper House, Diet, and Akihiro Nishimura, member of the House of Representatives, Diet. We did not independently request meetings with these esteemed Japanese lawmakers. Further, Senator Remengesau Jr. informed Charge d’ Affaires Masayuki Takashima about this trip, and the Chief of the Asia Pacific Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan was able to join in our meetings.
Dr. Ueki states in his letter that the Palau Constitution “places powers and responsibilities for the conduct of foreign affairs on the President”, and thus, “any or all purported official trip to Japan must be made through Mnistry of State, which will inform Palau Embassy in Japan.” While it is certainly true that the Constitution grants the power and duty to conduct negotiations with foreign nations to the President, Dr. Ueki fails to recognize that the Constitution also places very important responsibilities regarding foreign affairs under the care of the Olbiil Era Kelulau. For example, the Olbiil Era Kelulau has the power to provide for the national defense, to ratify treaties, and to regulate commerce with foreign nations. Further, the Senate has the power to confirm certain Presidential appointments, such as ambassadorships. Making trips abroad allows members of the Olbiil Era Kelulau to take advantage of educational opportunities and experiences that enable us to better exercise our oversight functions.
I am currently unaware of a written policy that requires the Legislative and Judicial branches of government to make all travel arrangements to other nations through the Ministry of State. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue of official travel protocols with you, as I can appreciate the difficulties that may arise when Palauan officials travel to other nations without appropriate notice to all necessary parties. I believe it is important that we work together in a spirt of cooperation, rather than writing accusatory, demeaning, and inaccurate letters.
It is my sincere hope that you will share my feelings regarding this matter with Dr. Ueki. I look forward to hearing from you.
Delegate Jonathan Isechal
House of Delegates, Eighth Olbiil Era Kelulau
cc: Senator Tommy E. Remengesau Jr.
Delegate Celestine Yangilmau
Mr. Donald Haruo
Japan Embassy, Republic of Palau
Speaker Noah Idechong, HOD
And finally the President’s letter to Delegate Isechal
July 23, 2009
Serial No. 09-407
The Honorable Jonathan Isechal
Delegate, Eighth Olbiil Era Kelulau
Capital, Melekeok State
Republic of Palau 96939
Dear Delegate Isechal,
This is an acknowledgement of your letter of July 22, 2009 responding to Ambassador Minoru F. Ueki’s letter about proper foreign travel protocols for high ranking government officials.
As suggested in your letter, I too am open to the opportunity to discuss the issue of official travel protocols with all the concerned parties. In light of the confusion, I will instruct my Minister of State to set the ground work on formulating a uniform and acceptable policy to be adhered by us all.
By a copy of this letter I am so requesting her cooperation in this matter.
Thank you for your concerns and let us continue to work together with the spirit of cooperation.
cc: Honorable Sandra S. Pierantozzi
Minister of State, Republic of Palau
Honorable Mlib Tmetuchl Senate President, 8th OEK
Honorable Noah Idechong
Speaker of the House of Delegates, 8th OEK
Entry filed under: Informational.