Japan-ASEAN Relations

November 14, 2020
The 23rd ASEAN Plus Three (Japan-China-Republic of Korea) Summit Meeting 1 Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
The 23rd ASEAN Plus Three (Japan-China-Republic of Korea) Summit Meeting 2 Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
On November 14, commencing at 3:30 p.m. and concluding at 5:00 p.m., the ASEAN Plus Three (Japan-China-Republic of Korea) Summit Meeting was held online. Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide attended from Japan. The overview of the meeting focusing on his remarks is as follows (Chairman: Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam).

1 Opening remarks

Following statements from Viet Nam as the Chair of ASEAN and the Republic of Korea (ROK), Prime Minister Suga stated the following.

(1) General remarks

I ampleased to participate in the ASEAN Plus Three Summit for the first time.

(2) The progress of cooperation with ASEAN against COVID-19

  1. The establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases was formally announced at the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting on November 12. Japan will continue to provide support in order to ensure that the Centre, as a hub for the region's fight against infectious diseases, develops into an organization that will protect ASEAN's people from the threat posed by infectious diseases.
  2. Regarding medical cooperation, Japan will provide assistance worth more than 200 million USD in medical supplies and equipment as well as extending technical cooperation for medical research institutions and others.
  3. On the support to revitalize the economy, Japan has provided a total of approximately 2.5 billion USD worth of financial assistance loans to ASEAN countries. Under the Initiative on Overseas Loan and Investment for ASEAN, Japan has also expanded investments in the private sector, such as for quality infrastructure. The Japan-ASEAN Economic Resilience Action Plan was formulated in July of this year, and Japan has supported the creation of resilient supply chains and the digitalization of industry. Japan will continue to cooperate in strengthening  ASEAN's economic resilience through such efforts.

(3) Follow-up to the Joint Statement of the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit

  1. In addition to the 300,000 US dollars donated collaboratively by Japan, China, and the ROK to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund from the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Fund, Japan has decided to donate 1 million US dollars as an independent contribution. Japan hopes that these measures will further enhance ASEAN's ability to respond to infectious diseases.
  2. Japan has also improved management of the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) in order to effectively use resources to respond to COVID-19. Japan hopes to cooperate with ASEAN Plus Three countries to use resources more efficiently.

2 ASEAN Plus Three cooperation review and future directions

(1) Prime Minister Suga stated the following regarding ASEAN Plus Three cooperation.

(i) Economic issues (trade and energy)

  1. Promotion of free trade based on free and fair economic rules is important for regional economic growth. Japan would like to continue to cooperate toward the early entry into force of the RCEP Agreement.
  2. Japan will promote the creation of rules based on Data Free Flow with Trust amid the acceleration of digitalization.
  3. There is not a moment to lose in responding to global warming. Japan will strive to achieve a virtuous cycle of the economy and the environment through innovations. It will also fully support practical and sustainable decarbonization and  energy transition reflecting the circumstances in Asia.

(ii) Social issues

a. Health

Population aging is an issue the region cannot be avoided. Under the Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative, Japan will work to promote the development of pharmaceutical and healthcare industries in Asia.

b. Marine plastic debris

Under the ASEAN Plus Three Marine Plastics Debris Cooperative Action Initiative, Japan will support the efforts of ASEAN Plus Three countries by formulating national action plans.

(iii) Import restrictions due to the Great East Japan Earthquake

It will soon be 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. The safety of Japanese food products is assured based on scientific evidence, and necessary monitoring and control measures are enforced. Japan would like to strongly urge countries concerned to promptly lift restrictions.

(2) In response, many countries expressed their gratitude for the concrete support from Japan and ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, including cooperation for the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases. In addition, many countries remarked that ASEAN Plus Three frameworks for financial cooperation, enhancing economic resilience, and revitalization of trade and investment had gained greater importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also expressed the necessity of resuming cross-border travel and reinforcing connectivity.

3 Exchange of views on regional and international affairs

(1) Prime Minister Suga stated the following regarding regional affairs.
The full implementation  of  United Nations Security Council resolutions, including addressing "ship-to-ship transfers", is essential to achieving the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges of North Korea. Japan's policy of seeking normalization of its relationship with North Korea through  comprehensively resolving the outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, as well as settling the unfortunate past, remains unchanged. I am determined to meet directly with Chairman Kim Jong-un without any preconditions. Furthermore, I ask for continued understanding and cooperation toward the early resolution of the abductions issue.

(2) In response, many countries emphasized the importance of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

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