Japan-ASEAN Relations

November 22, 2015
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
The 18th ASEAN Plus Three (Japan-China-Republic of Korea) Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 21, commencing at 4:55 p.m. (local time) and ending at 6:05 p.m. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the meeting. The overview is as below. The meeting was chaired by HonorableDato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. The ''Final Report on the Follow-up to the East Asia Vision Group (EAVG) II recommendations'' was adopted at the meeting.

1 Opening remarks (including Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit)

Prime Minister Abe stated that the Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) Trilateral Summit meeting was held recently and leaders exchanged their views on a broad range of matters regarding cooperation and urgent regional and international issues. He also expressed his expectation that normalization of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral cooperation process will enhance further progress for the ASEAN+3 cooperation.
In response, leaders from ROK and China reported the results of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting and most leaders from ASEAN countries welcomed the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting during the meeting.

2 Review of ASEAN Plus Three cooperation and its future direction

(1)General issues

Prime Minister Abe welcomed the adoption of the ''Final Report on the Follow-up to the East Asia Vision Group (EAVG) II Recommendations'' at this summit. He also mentioned that Japan will deepen its cooperation particularly in the fields of higher education and public health services and expected further expansion of cooperation from next year and beyond.
In response, leaders welcomed the adoption of the ''Final Report on the Follow-up to the East Asia Vision Group (EAVG) II recommendations'' and introduced prioritized areas of cooperation for each country.


Prime Minister Abe mentioned that Japan will promote innovation from Asia in order to ensure that Asian countries continue to lead the world economy in the 21st century, and that the foundation for innovation is human resources and infrastructure. He also stated that Japan will assist the industrial human resource development of 40,000 youths in Asia in their efforts enhancing skills and acquiring knowledge, and that Japan will provide risk money and proactively participate in operation to promote safe, and environmentally-friendly, quality infrastructure. He mentioned that Japan will reduce the period necessary for procedures of Japanese ODA Loans to approximately one and a half years at most.
The Prime Minister stated that it is important to strengthen the financial safety net in light of  the possibility of increased volatility risks in the international financial market in the future. He also emphasized that enhancing the function of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) and the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) is a priority for the region, and that Japan would continue to  contribute to strengthening the financial safety net in the region.
He mentioned that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will realize a comprehensive and high-level agreement, and that Japan will closely cooperate with the relevant countries for an early conclusion of the negotiations. He also stressed that innovation is the key to resolving climate change without slowing down economic growth and poverty reduction, and that Japan will take initiative in promoting innovation.
Some ASEAN member states appreciated Japan's Partnership for Quality Infrastructure and many leaders referred to the importance of strengthening the financial safety net and of the RCEP negotiations.

(3)Food security

The Prime Minister mentioned that Japan provided rice assistance to the Philippines and Cambodia this year, and that Japan intended to further expand public-private partnerships to establish the food value chains.
Additionally, Prime Minister Abe asked countries that are maintaining restrictions on food imports to promptly relax and lift the import restrictions that they have placed on Japanese food products.

(4)People-to-people Connectivity

Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan is promoting student exchanges in the region as well as implementing youth invitation/exchange programs for the development of human resources in the fields of science and technology. Regarding tourism cooperation, he touched upon the Memorandum of Cooperation to be signed at the ASEAN+3 tourism ministers' meeting in 2016 and expressed his expectation that this memorandum will contribute to the promotion of tourism cooperation.

3 Exchange of views on regional and international issues

(1)North Korea

Prime Minister Abe mentioned that it is important for North Korea to refrain from  provocations and to comply with UN Security Council resolutions etc. He called on ASEAN Plus three member states for their continued understanding and cooperation toward an early resolution of the abductions issue.
In response, it was pointed out that North Korea must renounce nuclear weapons development. Some countries asked for international cooperation on this issue.   

(2)Maritime security

Prime Minister Abe expressed serious concerns over the situation in the South China Sea, where unilateral actions are still being undertaken, including large-scale, rapid land reclamations and the building of outposts and their use for military purposes, which lead to a change in the status quo and to raised tensions.  
Besides, the Prime Minister also stressed that the ''Three Principles of the Rule of Law at Sea'' (1. States shall make and clarify their claims based on international law; 2. States shall not use force or coercion in trying to drive their claims; and 3. States shall seek to settle disputes by peaceful means) must be strictly ensured.
In response, many counties pointed out the importance of maritime cooperation, peaceful resolution of the South China Sea issue in accordance with international law, freedom of navigation and over-flight, and the conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

4 Other issues

Finally, Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan, as a coordinator for the Japan-China-ROK side, will cooperate with Laos, the chair of the ASEAN Plus Three summit meeting, to strengthen ASEAN+3 cooperation in 2016. After the ASEAN+3 Summit Meeting, the ''ASEAN Plus Three Leaders' Interface with the East Asia Business Council'' was held for the first time.

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