Japan-ASEAN Relations

November 15, 2018

On Thursday, November 15, from 11:40 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. (local time), the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit was held in the Republic of Singapore. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, attended from Japan. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

1. Opening remarks

Following statements from Singapore as the Chair of ASEAN, China, and the Republic of Korea (ROK), Prime Minister Abe stated the following.

(1) General remarks

i. During my official visit to China, Japan and China agreed to play a constructive role for peace and prosperity of the international community. I am pleased that ASEAN and the leaders of Japan, China, and the ROK can meet together and discuss regional issues.

ii. Beginning with financial cooperation, APT has expanded its areas of cooperation to now include food security, poverty eradication, culture, tourism, and youth exchanges. Going forward, Japan will make a particular effort in the areas of the environment, disaster management, and healthcare.

(2) Environment

i. Japan will strengthen regional cooperation on the issue of marine plastic debris, which is now a serious issue. We welcome that the ASEAN Plus Three Marine Plastic Debris Cooperation Action Initiative (English(PDF)別ウィンドウで開く / Japanese(PDF)別ウィンドウで開く)proposed by Japan received the endorsement of member countries.

ii. Japan, in collaboration with China and the ROK, will assist ASEAN countries in developing institutions and infrastructure for “3R” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and waste management, and promote the sharing of scientific knowledge.

(3) Disaster management

i. Based on lessons learned from frequent natural disasters, Japan will promote the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (SEADRIF). With the cooperation of Singapore and the World Bank, we will aim to make a catastrophe risk pool operational by mid-2019, with Lao PDR and Myanmar as beneficiaries, and have other ASEAN countries join SEADRIF in the future.

ii. Japan and the Philippines have signed a memorandum that will enable the supply of 10,000 tons of rice when a natural disaster occurs under the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Agreement. Japan welcomes that the APTERR Agreement will be amended in order to sustain stable APTERR operations.

(4) Active aging

Aging is an unavoidable issue for the region. Under the Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative, Japan will aim to bring about a balanced and comprehensive healthcare system in Asia.


ASEAN, as the driving force in East Asia, sharing a common view with the three countries, Japan, China, and ROK will create strong momentum for resolving issues, including those on a global scale.

2. Review and future direction of ASEAN Plus Three cooperation

Prime Minister Abe explained the following seven points, primarily related to Japan’s efforts for APT cooperation.

(1) General remarks

In order to further strengthen APT partnership, Japan will seek to enhance cooperation in accordance with the Cooperation Work Plan.

(2) People-to-people connectivity

i. Higher education serves as the engine for boosting the vitality of countries. It is our duty to guarantee quality education for young people in East Asia and increase their mobility. Japan will work to develop talented students across the region.

ii. Japan will also promote cooperation between the East Asian Cultural Cities and the ASEAN Cities of Culture.

(3) Quality Infrastructure

Substandard infrastructure investments that do not meet international standards could compromise sustainable prosperity of the region. Japan will promote the development of quality infrastructure that ensures openness, transparency, economic efficiency in view of life-cycle cost, and fiscal soundness including debt sustainability of the recipient countries.

(4) Energy

In order to enhance energy security, Japan will continue to provide human resource development and financial support to promote LNG utilization in Asia, and strengthen initiatives in areas such as energy efficiency and conservation.

(5) RCEP and WTO reform

In light of rising concerns over protectionism in the world, the TPP-11 Agreement will enter into force by the end of the year. Japan will contribute proactively towards the early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations. In addition, Japan will cooperate on World Trade Organization (WTO) reform.

(6) Elimination of import restrictions

More than seven years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. We request countries and regions that still maintain import restrictions ease and eliminate these restrictions, based on scientific evidence, as quickly as possible.

In response, other leaders made statements welcoming the progress of APT cooperation and shared the view of further deepening cooperation.

3. Exchange of views on regional and international affairs

During the discussion of the situation of the Korean Peninsula, Prime Minister Abe stated the following regarding North Korea.

(1) Full implementation of Security Council resolutions is needed for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Japan will cooperate on measures to counter ship-to-ship transfers that are prohibited by Security Council resolutions.

(2) North Korea is now at a crossroads at which it will either seize, or fail to seize, the historic opportunity it is afforded. North Korea has both untapped natural resources and a labor force whose productivity can be greatly enhanced. The resolution of issues will bring North Korea the dawn of a new day. Japan will seek to resolve the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues of North Korea, settle the unfortunate past, and normalize its relations with North Korea. Based on this policy, I am determined to break the cycle of mutual distrust with North Korea and meet face to face with Chairman Kim Jong-un to resolve the abductions issue as early as possible. I hope to have your understanding and cooperation on the resolution of the abductions issue as early as possible.

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