Japan-ASEAN Relations

November 4, 2019
(Photo1) Photograph session Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
(Photo2) Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting 1 Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
(Photo3) Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting 2 Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office
On Monday, November 4, from 5:15 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. (local time), the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting was held in Thailand chaired by H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand. Mr. ABE Shinzo, Prime Minister, attended from Japan. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

1 Opening remarks

Following the statement by Prime Minister Prayut, Prime Minister Abe stated the following. 

(1) Opening

  1. I am grateful for the warm hospitality of Prime Minister Prayut and the Government of Thailand, which is typical of the “Land of Smiles.”
  2. Next year, Japan will hold the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. I sincerely wish the athletes from the ASEAN countries every success. 
  3. Japan is currently implementing the “Sport for Tomorrow” international contribution through sport initiative until the 2020 Tokyo Games. We have implemented it in all of the ASEAN countries and as a result approximately five million people have benefited to date. We hope to continue advancing cooperation for the Games. 

(2) Joint Statement of the 22nd ASEAN-Japan Summit on Connectivity

  1. This year the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)” was announced, so this is a milestone year in which a major step has been taken toward strengthening the connectivity of the Indo-Pacific centered on ASEAN. Japan, which advocates the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)”, fully supports the AOIP, and hopes to pursue the synergies of FOIP and AOIP.
  2. From that perspective, I am pleased that on this occasion Japan and ASEAN have been able to issue the Joint Statement on Connectivity between Japan and ASEAN for the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

(3) Initiative on Overseas Loan and Investment for ASEAN

In order to support this Joint Statement financially, Japan will launch the Initiative on Overseas Loan and Investment for ASEAN. We are aiming to mobilize funds, including private sector funds, and are prepared to double the investment and loans of JICA going forward in the fields of quality infrastructure, financial access, support for women and other people, and green investment, with the focus on the ASEAN region. 

(4) Japan-ASEAN Technical Cooperation Agreement 

In May this year, a Technical Cooperation Agreement was signed with ASEAN, and the fact that technical cooperation from which all of ASEAN benefits has become possible also contributes to the strengthening of connectivity. In January next year we will finally implement the first project, Training in Cyber Security, in Japan.

(5) Smart Cities and the Transport Partnership Initiative

I welcome the fact that the ASEAN-Japan Smart Cities Network High-Level Meeting was held in Yokohama in October this year, and the Japan Association for Smart Cities in ASEAN was established. I will also continue to deepen the Japan-ASEAN Transport Partnership Initiative.

(6) Trade and economy

  1. Regarding the strengthening of connectivity on institutional aspects, I welcome the signing of the first protocol to amend the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement. I hope it will be brought into force quickly in order to further vitalize trade in services and investment. 
  2. I welcome the progress in the RCEP negotiations. RCEP realizes the world’s largest free and fair economic aria, and is important from the strategic and economic viewpoint of realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” I intend to continue to cooperate toward a swift conclusion of the RCEP among the 16 countries.
  3. In response to the rapid progress of digital innovation, we will discuss environmental improvement measures with each country in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Dialogue for the dissemination of disaster management cooperation utilizing ICT and of digital businesses that contribute to solving social issues.
  4. Furthermore, more than eight years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and most of the countries in the world have lifted or relaxed import restrictions, including the lifting of restrictions by Brunei recently. I would like to ask countries that still retain restrictions to lift them quickly based on scientific evidence.

(7) Japan Foundation Asia Center 

  1. Finally, concerning people-to-people connectivity, under the “WA Project” that I announced in 2013 we have dispatched approximately 2,000 NIHONGO Partners and implemented approximately 2000 cultural exchange projects to date. Exchanges between six million people in Japan and ASEAN have occurred as a result of that.
  2. I am grateful that we have been highly praised by the leaders of each country for these achievements. I intend to continue utilizing these kinds of meaningful projects to further deepen exchanges with each country.

2 Closed session

Prime Minister Abe stated the following. 

(1) Defense cooperation

Firstly, in the defense field, cooperation will proceed centered on the fields of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and maritime security under the Vientiane Vision. Furthermore, regarding PKOs, in cooperation with the United Nations we have commenced full-scale training on the operation of heavy engineering equipment from this month.

(2) Regional and international affairs 

North Korea

  1. North Korea abducted many innocent Japanese citizens, including a girl as young as 13 years old at the time. As the victims and their families get older, no time can be lost in rescuing the abductees. 
  2. It is important that Japan itself to work proactively toward resolution of the abductions issue. I am determined to break the shell of mutual distrust and meet face to face with Chairman Kim Jong-un without attaching any conditions. We will act resolutely, without missing any opportunities, to achieve the earliest possible resolution of this issue. I ask for your continued understanding and cooperation toward resolution of the abductions issue. 

South China Sea

Japan is seriously concerned about the present situation in the South China Sea. Regarding the issue of the South China Sea, it is necessary for the countries of ASEAN to call for an improvement in the worsening present situation with one voice. Japan will continue to spare no effort in offering maximum cooperation. 

(3) Cultural exchanges, etc.

  1. The ASEAN-Japan Day was held with great enthusiasm in Viet Nam this year. I am grateful to Viet Nam and the other ASEAN countries for their cooperation. 
  2. I intend to continue to promote exchanges through people and technology in a wide range of fields, in particular education, culture, and sports.
  3. The first Rugby World Cup in Asia was held in Japan until two days ago, and enthralled rugby fans from around the world. I attended the Opening Ceremony and approximately 150 young people from ASEAN countries who were visiting Japan through JENESYS participated in the opening ceremony, sharing the excitement that sport generates.

(4) Conclusion

  1. Finally, I would like to express my respect to Prime Minister Prayut for running the meeting so well.
  2. Going forward, I intend to continue to work closely with you all as the leaders of ASEAN.
In response, the ASEAN side gave its congratulations on the accession to the Throne by His Majesty the Emperor and the success of the Rugby World Cup, and stated its expectations for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year. Furthermore, many ASEAN countries mentioned Japan’s support for ASEAN in the area of connectivity, while also stating that they welcomed the Japan-ASEAN Joint Statement on Connectivity adopted in the meeting. 
Furthermore, the ASEAN side expressed gratitude and support for the first training on cybersecurity which is based on the Initiative on Overseas Loan and Investment for ASEAN and the Japan-ASEAN Technical Cooperation Agreement, the current new initiatives of Japan. Moreover, the ASEAN side expressed its appreciation for the Japan Foundation Asia Center and its expectations for the activities of the center going forward, and in addition expressed gratitude for Japan’s cooperation for ASEAN, including the Smart Cities High Level Meeting held in Yokohama in October this year, the Fourth Industrial Revolution Dialogue, the ASEAN-Japan Day implemented in Hanoi this year, JENESYS, etc.
In addition, the AOIP adopted in June this year was mentioned, discussions toward realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific were held, and there were exchanges of views regarding the North Korea issue and the South China Sea.
Finally, as the Chair of ASEAN and with the approval of all participating countries, Thailand declared the issuance of the Joint Statement of the 22nd ASEAN-Japan Summit on Connectivity and concluded the meeting.

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