Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the Occasion of the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit
(Saturday, November 21, 2015 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Chairman Tan Sri Munir,
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I begin my remarks, I would like first to express my heartfelt condolences together with all of you to the victims of the terrorist attacks that occurred in Paris the other day. And, we, the people of Asia, stand together with the French people, who now face difficulties. I declare a strong solidarity with them.
Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason. It is an assault on our values of desiring peace and prosperity.
The international community will be steadfast in joining together in the fight against terrorism. I am fully determined to firmly send out that clear message here at the East Asia Summit, continuing on from our stance at the G20 and APEC leaders’ meetings.
It is a great honor for me to be able to speak today before up-and-coming businessmen and women who will drive the Malaysian economy and, indeed, the ASEAN economy into the future.
This city of Kuala Lumpur is more than 5,000 km away from Tokyo. For you businessmen and women who do deals the world over, that is just a stone’s throw away. But I finally arrived here after a journey spanning some 24,000 km that took me from Tokyo to Turkey and then Manila for the G20 Summit and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
It won’t be long before I start yearning for Japanese food.
Whether sushi or grilled teppanyaki dishes, we can enjoy delicious Japanese food here in Malaysia as well. I’ve heard that ramen noodles are enormously popular in particular recently. Japan’s famous ramen noodle restaurants are setting up branches here one after another. If any of you have yet to try ramen, I recommend you head to “Tokyo Street” in Bukit Bintang after today’s sessions conclude.
Japan’s delicious ramen boasts a delicately-balanced harmony of soup, noodles, and toppings when it reaches your bowl. But we Japanese don’t bring the Japanese dish to Malaysia as is.
One restaurant has gotten Halal certification. It uses a chicken base for the soup instead of pork bone and tops up the noodles with slices of chicken rather than roasted pork. The ones preparing the meals are Malaysians who have received training. It is thanks to efforts like these that some ramen restaurants are expanding their number of branches here.
We Japanese do not impose ourselves on others. We take a long-term view, cultivating firm roots in a country. We think together, and move forward together, with the local people.
This is how Japan operates. I think you can understand this better by recalling the successes that Japan’s electric appliance and automobile manufacturers have achieved in the countries of ASEAN up until now.
(Cultivating human resources)
By fostering young people here and embracing their strength, Japanese companies have played a role in the industrialization of the countries of ASEAN.
Thirty years ago, a young gentleman named Mr. Yang Cho Leon was one of those young people. After working in physical distribution at Matsushita Sales & Service—now Panasonic Malaysia—for eight years, he participated in the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) training program supported by the Government of Japan, through which he experienced state-of-the-art physical distribution in the Japanese city of Yokohama.
“That provided me with very valuable experience,” Mr. Yang claims, and he has now set up a company here in Malaysia and works supporting the physical distribution of Malaysian marine products.
Mr. Yang also says he was impressed by the earnest and sincere attitude of the Japanese, and he currently runs a program that gives Malaysian high school students the chance to experience and learn Japanese-style “kaizen”—an approach of continuous improvement.
The experience and know-how of Japanese firms have grown strong roots which are spreading here in the countries of ASEAN, as they are being handed down to Mr. Yang and then to the young people who will shoulder the responsibilities of Malaysia’s next generation.
This is a tremendous opportunity for Japanese companies as well.
People’s tastes vary from country to country. For example, motorbikes on which several people can ride together are popular in Viet Nam, whereas in Thailand sports-type pickup trucks are very much in demand. In designing and then developing highly marketable products for each individual country, the only way forward is to embrace the strength of that country’s young people, who are full of drive and ability.
Today, I express my commitment that over the next three years, Japan will assist as many as 40,000 young people from ASEAN countries, India, and elsewhere around Asia in improving their technical skills and acquiring knowledge.
To that end, I announce our intention to launch efforts to educate and train the next generation of young people who will be leaders in industrial development through establishing new courses at approximately 20 universities in Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Viet Nam, and elsewhere, with the cooperation of Japanese companies.
Furthermore, half of all consumers are women. Women’s unique sensibilities are also essential in developing hit products. In Japan too, it is women who are now driving growth through Abenomics. I wish to expand opportunities for the women of Asia with great potential as well. I will newly establish a fund towards that end.
For Japan, Asia is no longer a recipient of assistance. It is instead our partner for growing together. Japan is committed to stepping up still further its efforts to develop the human resources that will be the driving force for growing together.
(Our partnership in infrastructure)
But our partnership will extend beyond human resources. Japan and Asia will also grow together as partners through finance. Over the next five years, Japan and the ADB will provide Asia with innovative infrastructure financing at a scale of US$110 billion, or 13 trillion yen equivalent.
Over the past 30 years, Japan has provided assistance for developing Thailand’s eastern seaboard industrial estate by building a port and a connection via rail and establishing a road network. What gave rise to “The Detroit of the Orient,” with a concentration of automakers, was Japanese ODA loans totaling some 180 billion yen, which supplied long-term, low-interest capital.
We will make these loans even easier to use going forward. We will press forward in undertaking reforms that will make them even more responsive to the needs of the people of Asia.
Asia is constantly advancing. Its growth tempo accelerates with each passing year. Japan’s ODA loans should not lag behind that speed of change. We will drastically reduce the time needed for going through the procedures for ODA loans by as much as one and a half years compared with the current system.
We will also revise the current practice of requiring without exception recipient governments’ payment guarantees. In cases in which Japanese ODA loans are being provided to local authorities, public corporations, or other such public institutions with ample sufficient commitment by the national government on the recipient’s side, we will not necessarily require a government guarantee. We will fully respond to diverse infrastructure needs by making ODA loans quicker to process and more flexible.
We will also advance our cooperation with the ADB still further. Over the next five years, JICA and the ADB will undertake US$10 billion in co-financing. JICA will make up to US$1.5 billion in investments and loans towards private sector projects over the next five years through a trust fund to be newly established at the ADB.
Moreover, we will not stop at loans, but will also make active equity investments. We will be strengthening the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), including the establishment of new accounts, and make it easier for JBIC to provide risk money.
Asia has infrastructure demand expected to reach as much as 100 trillion yen annually. There is a plan for high-speed rail to connect Malaysia and Singapore totaling more than 1 trillion yen. The large-scale, state-of-the-art coal-fired thermal power station planned for India’s southeast region is a project that will exceed 500 billion yen. In Indonesia too there are plans for liquefied natural gas development at a scale exceeding 1 trillion yen. All of these are important projects that are also incorporated in the plans by ERIA.
Such large projects will all progress concurrently. To this dynamically growing Asia, Japan will actively supply risk money.
The pursuit of short-term profits through only sales without support is not the way Japan conducts itself. Japan also actively takes part in operations, and we bring the entire project to a successful conclusion by making use of the experiences and wisdom we have accumulated. We are committed to sharing the responsibility, not just the return.
Therefore, we will also not spare any effort to share Japan’s sophisticated technologies or know-how, or the reliability of “Made in Japan.” Coal-fired thermal power stations, now becoming widespread around Asia, will be able to slash energy costs by 40 per cent by using Japanese technology to gasify coal and by also adding fuel cells.
Japan recently decided to obtain equity in a rail project in the United States on the assumption that it would employ the “Shinkansen,” or bullet train, technologies that are the pride of Japan. We would like you all to actively consider making use of Japan’s high-speed and safe Shinkansen technologies.
Phnom Penh’s water supply was until recently only able to deliver 30 per cent of the water originally taken, as a result of water leakage and theft. Japan began participating in operations and now more than 90 per cent is successfully delivered.
We do not impose ourselves on others anywhere. We take a long-term view, cultivating firm roots in a country. We think together, and move forward together, with the local people.
Japan is committed to continue operating this way. Infrastructure with superior economic efficiency, in harmony with the environment, with the utmost energy efficiency, that is also made to last long. We consider such infrastructure to be high quality infrastructure. Together, let’s expand quality infrastructure throughout Asia.
You now stand at an important historical crossroads, as this is the year the ASEAN Economic Community finally comes into being.
Japan, together with such countries as Malaysia, Viet Nam, and Brunei Darussalam, and Singapore, reached agreement in principle in creating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. From this Asia-Pacific region, new economic rules for the 21st century are about to take form.
Moreover, we see movement towards RCEP, an Asia-wide economic integration. Here too we should aim at reaching an ambitious, high-level agreement.
I would like to see a free and fair market where high-quality things are evaluated as such. I believe that is a major key in making the strength of Asia’s growth something that lasts.
Asia’s growth is about to transition to a new stage. That is a new challenge in ensuring lasting growth. I am convinced that 2015 will be a special year in the history of Asia’s economic development.
And, let me share with you my strong belief. The best partner in this new stage will be Japan.
I would ask you all to remember my belief when you eat Japanese ramen that has been refined into a Malaysian style. Let us take on this challenge for lasting growth together.