Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting
On September 9, commencing at 7:45 p.m. (Japan time) for approximately 70 minutes, the Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting was held in an online format. Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended from Japan and co-chaired the meeting alongside H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The overview of the meeting is as follows.
1 Opening remarks
In response, Minister Motegi stated that as each country endeavors to combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Japan, as a true friend of ASEAN, intends to cooperate closely to overcome this difficult situation. As a concrete measure, he expressed his aim to fully support the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for emerging diseases and public health emergencies (tentative name), and, as the flagship of Japan-ASEAN cooperation, to protect the people of ASEAN from the threat of infectious diseases, jointly develop the Centre as a hub for countermeasures against infectious diseases in ASEAN for years to come. Minister Motegi also expressed Japan's support for and cooperation with the establishment of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, which aims to procure medical supplies and develop vaccines, and announced that Japan had decided to donate US$1 million as its own contribution.
In addition, Minister Motegi stated that the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific Region (AOIP) and Japan's Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision have much in common, and he expressed he wishes to work together to concretely develop form to Japan-ASEAN cooperation regarding the AOIP.
In addition, Minister Motegi stated that Japan issued the Japan-U.S. Joint Ministerial Statement on the Japan-U.S. Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP)on September 8th, which aims to strengthen cooperation in the power sector within the Mekong region. He said that in accordance with this statement, Japan hopes to steadily advance the development of quality energy infrastructure and the extending of technical assistance.
2 Review of Japan-ASEAN Cooperation and Future Direction
In response, Minister Motegi explained that US $50 million had been allocated for establishing the ASEAN Centre for emerging diseases and public health emergencies and that he hoped to accelerate the review process so that it can be launched as soon as possible. He stated that FOIP and AOIP share many fundamental values, such as the rule of law, freedom of navigation and openness, and stated that Japan would support AOIP through specific projects.
Minister Motegi also stated that he would like to accelerate equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, such as through the COVAX Facility, reopen the flow of people between Japan and the ASEAN countries, and cooperate on various measures to combat COVID-19 (UNCLOS).
In addition, Minister Motegi expressed his desire to focus on economic resilience, digitalization, disaster response, infrastructure development to enhance connectivity, and on strengthening supply chains.
3 The Regional and International Situation
(1) East and South China SeasMinister Motegi stated that unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas were continuing and intensifying, and that the situation is deteriorating. He further stated that the Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea must not infringe on the rights of third countries and that the COC must conform with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Each country spoke about the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, the importance of demilitarization, and the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
(2) North KoreaMinister Motegi encouraged other ministers to support the U.S.-North Korea process, and also stated that full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions is critical , including countering " ship-to-ship transfers". In addition, he asked for continued cooperation from all countries towards the early resolution of the abductions issue.
In response, some countries spoke of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the importance of full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions. There were also remarks on the importance of resolving the abductions issue.