The 23rd ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
On August 4, commencing at 11:20 a.m. local time (1:20 pm, JST) for about 100 minutes, the 23rd ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Chair: H.E. Mr. Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Kingdom of Cambodia) was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended the meeting. The overview of the meeting is as follows.
1. Opening Remarks
At the outset, Minister Hayashi outlined the following initiatives as some of the examples of Japan’s active contribution under the ASEAN Plus Three process.
- (1)With regard to public health, in order to achieve equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, Japan has provided more than 23 million doses of vaccines to ASEAN countries and a total of about 327 million US dollars in grant assistance including cold chain development.
- (2)As the importance of food security is keenly felt due to the frequent occurrence of natural disasters and the COVID-19 outbreak, Japan has been providing rice assistance through the ASEAN+3 Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR).
- (3)In regional financial cooperation, we contributed to the progress of discussions on further rulemaking to improve the accessibility to the CMIM (Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation).
- (4)As part of maritime cooperation, Japan has been assisting the training of Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) operators.
Furthermore, Minister Hayashi stated that as Russia's aggression against Ukraine has given rise to many challenges, including soaring prices of energy, food and other commodities, as well as supply chain disruptions, now is the time to address these challenges in a coordinated manner, and it is even more important to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law. He stressed that Japan supports ASEAN Unity and Centrality and emphasizes cooperation in line with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). Minister Hayashi also welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan (2023-2027) at the meeting.
2. ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation
- (1)Minister Hayashi stated as follows.
Japan will continue to strongly support the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework by promoting concrete cooperation in the four priority areas of the AOIP.
First, regarding maritime cooperation, Japan will continue to promote cooperation that contributes to maritime security and the freedom of navigation. In addition, under the ASEAN+3 Marine Plastics Debris Cooperative Action Initiative, Japan will support the development of national action plans and human resource development.
Second, with regard to connectivity, Japan will continue to boost investment in quality infrastructure through the Japan-ASEAN Connectivity Initiative among others based on the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.
Third, Japan will support achieving the SDGs based on the principle of human security. Specifically, Japan will continue to support the ASEAN Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) with other partners. On sustainable agricultural production and food systems, it will promote cooperation with ASEAN countries including through joint research projects.
On public health, Japan will contribute to achieving Universal Health Coverage. Japan hopes that the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED) will start its activities promptly, and will continue to fully support the Centre.
On climate change, Japan will foster comprehensive cooperation with ASEAN countries through the implementation of the ASEAN-Japan Climate Change Action Agenda 2.0 and the Asia Energy Transition Initiative (AETI) towards decarbonization.
Fourth, regarding the economy, Japan will work with the APT countries toward the full implementation of the RCEP agreement, and also work together in achieving Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT). Further, Japan welcomes the progress made in discussions on the Asian Bond Markets Initiative (ABMI) and Japan's initiatives of financial digitalization and strengthening the region’s financial resilience against natural disaster risks, and looks forward to achieving concrete outcomes next year.
- (2)In response, participating countries mentioned the 25th anniversary of ASEAN Plus Three cooperation this year and the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan (2023-2027) adopted at the meeting, and remarked on their priority areas of cooperation including a post-pandemic recovery, public health, food security, financial cooperation and the digital economy.
3. Regional and international issues
- (1)Situation in Ukraine
Minister Hayashi stated that Japan strongly condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which infringes upon sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, constitutes a grave breach of the Charter of the United Nations prohibiting the use of force and shakes the very foundation of the international order based on the rule of law. He also emphasized that any unilateral change of the status quo by force is unacceptable in any region.
- (2)North Korea
Minister Hayashi stated that the full implementation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), including by countering “ship-to-ship transfers”, is critical towards achieving the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, and asked for continued understanding and cooperation in relation to the abductions issue.
- (3)Situation in Myanmar
Minister Hayashi stated that Japan seriously deplores the executions of detainees last month as these actions completely go against “the release of the detainees” which Japan has consistently called for. He expressed that Japan would continue its utmost support for the efforts of ASEAN and its Chair Cambodia to implement the “Five-Point Consensus”, including providing humanitarian assistance.
- (4)In response, participating countries expressed their concern over the situation in Ukraine and also mentioned the situation in Myanmar with some expressing deep disappointment over the executions of detainees. Moreover, some countries spoke on the importance of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of the relevant UNSCRs, and expressed their support for the efforts for the resolution of the abductions issue.
- (5)With regard to the situation in Taiwan, China stated its position on the issue. Minister Hayashi made a rebuttal comment, reiterating the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element in security and prosperity in the international community and stating that Japan is seriously concerned about a series of military activities announced by China and expects the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues through dialogue.