Japan-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting

July 26, 2011

The Japan-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held on July 21 in Bali, the Republic of Indonesia. The following is an overview of the Meeting (chaired by Dr. R. M. Marty M. Natalegawa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, a country coordinator for ASEAN's partnership with Japan, which was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeaki Matsumoto).

1. Review of Japan-ASEAN Partnership

(1) Minister Matsumoto began the Meeting by expressing gratitude to the ASEAN foreign ministers for showing solidarity with disaster-stricken Japan and giving words of encouragement for Japan's reconstruction efforts in their Joint Communique announced following their meeting on July 19. He also thanked them for highly appreciating Japan's various forms of cooperation with ASEAN, including connectivity assistance and anti-disaster cooperation. He expressed Japan's determination to achieve "Recovery open to the rest of the world" without delay, saying Japan would continue to be "Open for business and travel."

(2) Minister Matsumoto briefed the Meeting on progress in efforts for closer regional cooperation in the area of disaster management, a Japanese policy proposed during the Special ASEAN- Japan Ministerial Meeting held on April 9 soon after the disaster. His explanation was as follows.

To begin with, Minister Matsumoto explained that Japan would provide full-scale support to the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center), including the dispatch of anti-disaster experts who help to manage the center as well as various assistance ranging from the provision of communications equipment and supplies in stock to the dispatch of specialists.

Minister Matsumoto also proposed to set up a "Disaster Management Network for ASEAN Region," a wide-area and comprehensive initiative geared toward strengthening ASEAN's disaster response capabilities through such measures as the establishment of an information-sharing system and the nurturing of human resources.

He then thanked to the fact that many members of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) accepted Japan's proposal to regularly hold the ARF Disaster Relief Exercise. In addition, he explained that Japan would host a high-level international meeting on large-scale natural disasters in 2012 to promote international cooperation for disaster management, taking into consideration the experiences and lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake as well as the idea of human security. He urged the ASEAN countries to participate in the meeting.

(3) Minister Matsumoto briefed his ASEAN counterparts on Japan's policy to assist the enhancement of ASEAN connectivity that will be the key to founding the proposed ASEAN Community. He expressed Japan's intention to continue powerful support for the strengthened connectivity of the Indochina Peninsula, ASEAN islands and the entire ASEAN region. He also unveiled a plan to establish an "ASEAN Wide-Area Professional Education Service Network" to train middle-level managers as a means of attracting private-sector investment.

(4) Minister Matsumoto expressed hope that the planned new Joint Declaration and Plan of Action to be adopted at the next Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting in November 2011 would back up ASEAN's posture to address the challenges of the regional and international communities more positively and will thus show a new direction in the cooperative relationship between Japan and ASEAN. He added this policy was based on the changes taking place in the regional and international communities and Japan's bonds and solidarity with ASEAN fortified in the wake of the disaster. He conveyed to his ASEAN counterparts the wish that Japan and ASEAN would cooperate in accelerating the work to formulate the new Joint Statement and Plan of Action ahead of the Summit Meeting.

2. Exchanges of Views on Regional and International Situations

(1) During the Meeting, the foreign ministers of Japan and ASEAN exchanged views on maritime security, the Korean Peninsula situation, U.N. Security Council reform, the Middle East and North African situation, and Middle East peace.

(2) On the Korean Peninsula situation, Japan confirmed its solidarity with the ASEAN countries to press for concrete North Korean actions toward the comprehensive solution of various outstanding issues such as abduction and nuclear and missile development.

(3) On Security Council reform, Japan informed the ASEAN countries that it wished to strengthen cooperation between the two sides to achieve the reform.

(4) On the Middle East and Africa, Japan noted the importance of international assistance for democratic reform, and reiterated Japan's position on the Middle East peace process.

3. Overview of ASEAN Side's Remarks

(1) The ASEAN countries expressed their condolences on the disaster, saying that the awareness of deep bonds and solidarity between ASEAN and Japan, with which ASEAN has a long history of friendly ties, had been reaffirmed in the wake of the disaster, that they would spare no efforts to assist Japan's recovery, and that they wished Japan's quick restoration.

(2) The ASEAN foreign ministers also expressed a deep appreciation of Japan maintaining its firm commitment to the formation of the ASEAN Community and making all-out national efforts to assist ASEAN's connectivity despite its hardship. Many of them welcomed the Japanese initiative for the "ASEAN Wide-Area Professional Education Service Network."

(3) Moreover, the ASEAN side highly evaluated Japan's enhanced assistance in the disaster management area, including assistance to the AHA Center, sponsoring of international meetings and the foundation of the "Disaster Management Network for the ASEAN Region."

(4) There was the view expressed that the fact that Japan was the first to establish its ASEAN representative office in Jakarta showed Japan's high regard for its relations with ASEAN.

(5) Many ASEAN foreign ministers congratulated Japan on winning the women's World Cup soccer championships in Germany, saying the victory was a major encouragement to other Asian countries.

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