Japan-ASEAN Relations

September 7, 2016
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
On September 7, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting held in Vientiane, Laos, chaired by His Excellency Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith. The overview is as follows.

1 Opening Remarks

Prime Minister Abe stated the following:
  • We firmly condemn the terrorist attacks in Davao City, the Philippines and express heartfelt sympathy to the victims and their families.
  • During the G20 Hangzhou Summit, North Korea launched 3 ballistic missiles, all of which fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The missile capability of North Korea is a grave threat to the security of the region. The international community should respond firmly to the repeated provocations by North Korea and should strengthen pressure on North Korea through measures including strict implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We call for support of ASEAN for the work taking place in the UNSC. Further understanding and cooperation from each country are necessary for the early resolution of the abductions issue.
  • Japan strongly supports ASEAN centrality and unity as an equal strategic partner of ASEAN.
  • As we will welcome the milestone 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN next year, Japan will support the deepening of ASEAN economic integration through strengthening connectivity, narrowing gaps, and transforming and advancing the industrial structure, and improvement of quality of life, development of human resources, and other efforts. Through this, we will promote Japan-ASEAN cooperation that benefits all the people of ASEAN in a manner that is also open to outside of the region, and will continue to strongly support sustainable growth and economic integration.
  • We strongly hope that ASEAN, as the center of regional cooperation, will deepen integration as a partner that holds in common values such as the rule of law and democracy, firmly address the regional and international issues, and take the lead on stability and prosperity of the region based on the rule of law.

2 Review of Japan-ASEAN Cooperation and Its Future Direction

(1)Cooperation for strengthening integration, sustainable growth, and improvement of quality of life.

Prime Minister Abe stated the following.
  • In order to support ASEAN's open economic integration and sustainable growth and to remove uncertainty of the world economy, Japan will continue to contribute to financial stability in the region through the enhancement of the readiness and effectiveness of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM), and through Bilateral currency Swaps Arrangement (BSA).
  • Concerning "strengthening connectivity," the key to integration and growth of ASEAN, Japan will promote the development of infrastructure both qualitatively and quantitatively under our "Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure" initiative based on the principles agreed to at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, mainly for the East-West and Southern Economic Corridors on land, the Maritime ASEAN Economic Corridor at sea, and air connectivity. We will support the realization of "vibrant and effective connectivity" whereby the infrastructure in the region is interconnected and is utilized through institutional improvements and development on the surrounding areas etc., under the "Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative" and the "Mekong Industrial Development Vision."
  • We will achieve economic growth with Japan and ASEAN as one through the further strengthening of supply chains, which are the industrial foundation of ASEAN, by strengthening connectivity of hard and soft infrastructure and supporting the creation of new industries utilizing the technology of Japanese enterprises through the "ASEAN-Japan Innovation Network," which encourages collaboration among businesses from Japan and ASEAN.
  • We welcome the conclusion of the negotiations on the investment chapter of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. We will promote cooperation through the pursuit of high-quality mega-FTAs. Regarding Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), we will collaborate with each country with the aim of concluding a comprehensive, balanced, and high-level agreement.
  • We will promote development of human resources that are the foundation of sustainable development and essential to advancing industries through the "Industrial Human Resources Development Cooperation Initiative," which aims to develop human resources to lead the industries of each country, and "Innovative Asia," which will accept 1,000 foreign students over the next five years and provide them with the opportunity to work at Japanese companies.
  • We will promote human resources development and exchanges in areas such as education, science and technology, culture, and sports, and build people-to-people networks over the medium-and long-term.
  • For promotion of economic integration and sustainable growth, it is important for people in each country to realize such benefits. We welcome the launch of the approximately USD 100 million "Japan-ASEAN Women Empowerment Fund." We will also support efforts to address emerging issues that accompany economic growth such as aging, urbanization, disaster risk reduction, and the environment etc.
All ASEAN Member States expressed their gratitude for Japan's cooperation to ASEAN over the year. Many ASEAN Member States appreciated Japan's initiatives to contribute enhancing connectivity, human resource development and people-to-people exchanges such as "Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure," the "Industrial Human Resource Development Cooperation Initiative," "Japan-ASEAN Women Empowerment Fund" and "JENESYS". They also welcomed increase of trade and investment between Japan and ASEAN and expected cooperation in economic areas such as supporting SMEs.

(2)Cooperation for peace and security of the region and international community

Prime Minister Abe stated the following.
  • Japan will contribute to ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the region and international community under the policy of "Proactive Contribution to Peace" based on the principles of international cooperation and the "Legislation for Peace and Security."
  • We would like to cooperate towards the success of the 2nd Japan-ASEAN Defence Ministers' Informal Meeting in November.
  • Japan will join hands with the ASEAN Member States to make Asia resilient to terrorism. To this end, Japan will provide approximately 45 billion yen over the next three years for Asia as comprehensive counter-terrorism measures consisted of (i) improvement of counter-terrorism capacity, (ii) measures to counter violent extremism conducive to terrorism, and (iii) social and economic development assistance for creating a foundation for a moderate society. In addition, Japan will help develop 2,000 personnel for counter-terrorism over the next three years. 
  • The Government of Japan and relevant entities will further work together on capacity building in ASEAN member states through the establishment of guidelines for the capacity building assistance to protect cybersecurity in the region.
  • The commitment of human resources development for maritime security for 700 personnel over three years that we announced at the 2014 Summit has already been accomplished. We will further strengthen support for ensuring the rule of law at sea and maritime safety by conducting human resources development for approximately 1,000 personnel over the next three years.
The ASEAN Member States appreciated Japan's contribution to the region and international community under the policy of ''Proactive Contribution to Peace'' and mentioned Japan's cooperation for countering terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes, and cooperation for maritime security.

3 Regional and international issues

(1) The South China Sea

Prime Minister Abe stated the following.
  • Maritime order based on international laws such as the freedoms of navigation and overflight is of critical importance to regional peace and prosperity. From that perspective,it was reaffirmed at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit this May that states should 1) make their claims based on international law, 2) not use force or coercion in trying to drive their claims, and 3) seek to settle disputes by peaceful means such as through juridical procedures, including arbitration.
  • We are deeply concerned about recent and continued attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
  • Regarding the South China Sea, the award by the Arbitral Tribunal between the Philippines and China is legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. We expect that the parties' compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.
  • The territorial disputes in the South China Sea are issues between the parties concerned, but the South China Sea is a sea lane of critical importance to Japan, and is also important for peace and stability in the region. While welcoming the dialogue between ASEAN and China, the dialogue should be conducted based on international law and on the premise that non-militarization and self-restraint will be secured at the South China Sea. 
  • He also explained the recent situation in the East China Sea and Japan's position thereon.
The ASEAN Member States mentioned the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law including UNCLOS, self-restraint in the conduct of activities which increase tensions and support for respect for legal and diplomatic processes.

(2)North Korea

The ASEAN Member States expressed their concerns on missile development by North Korea, and mentioned the importance of complying with the UNSC resolutions, and their expectation for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. They also shared Japan's concerns including the abductions issue.

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