TOKYO — Japan on Saturday pledged $450 million in aid to Pacific island nations battling rising sea levels and natural calamities as a result of climate change.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the pledge at a two-day meeting with the nations’ leaders in Iwaki in northern Japan.
The aid will be distributed over three years to help fight environmental disasters and boost access to clean water, renewable energy, waste management, and related issues.
Japan will also help with expert exchanges and training. Participants agreed to work together to preserve ocean life and encourage trade and investment in the region.
Taking part in the meeting were Fiji, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, and other nations dotting the Pacific Ocean, some of which are threatened by rising sea levels.
Scientists say the melt of Arctic glaciers is a key factor in the sea level rise that is threatening island nations, many of which are built on coral atolls just a few yards above sea level.
In a landmark report in 2014, the UN’s expert panel on climate change said oceans could rise by as much as 3.3 feet by the end of this century if no action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
‘‘In order for us to face up to the fury of nature and also recover even better from disasters, we must bring to each other our wisdom and experiences while maintaining connections,’’ Abe said in his speech.
He also expressed gratitude to the nations’ leaders for helping in recovering the remains of Japanese soldiers killed during World War II, an important issue for Abe this year, the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.
Abe has been eager to turn a new leaf for Japan, in asserting itself in the region not only economically but also in defense and diplomacy, and countering the rise of regional rival China.
On Thursday, Abe announced $110 billion in infrastructure financing for Asia, topping the $100 billion China set for its newly created Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Japan sided with the United States in not joining the 57-country collaboration.