Statement by Dr. Kiyohiko Toyama (Vice-Minister (Parliamentary) for Foreign Affairs of Japan)
ACMECS Ministers and Development Partners Meeting
(4 July 2006, Khone, Lao PDR)

Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, as a parliamentary vice-minister for Foreign Affairs of the Japanese government, I would like to express my deep gratitude for the invitation of the Lao government to attend the ACMECS Ministers and Development Partners Meeting, chaired by new Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. This is my very first visit to Laos, and I have been very impressed with the shining beauty of Lao nature and warm hospitality of the Lao people.

As the founding principles of the ACMECS clearly show, we are living in an era of globalization and regional integration, in which any single country cannot achieve its prosperity without regional cooperation. From this viewpoint, the Japanese government welcomes the ACMECS activities on the initiatives of the Thai government, as a proactive and self-help regional effort towards further development. Japan has always placed an importance upon the Mekong region development, and will continue to do so through strengthening ties with the ACMECS.

Mr. Chair,

The Japanese government established, in this March, Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund, with a view to further promoting intra-ASEAN integration, and 70.1 million USD have been put into it. 46.7 million of this Fund is already committed to the measurements on Avian Influenza in ASEAN region including the ACMECS member countries. If the ACMECS countries would like to propose, through ASEAN Secretariat new projects, which fit into the objectives of this Fund, Japan welcomes such proposals and is ready to implement them on the Fund's remaining budget, after careful consideration.

At the Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit held in December 2003, Japan announced the new concept of the Mekong Region Development. In that, Japan pledged approximately 1.5 billion USD supports for the region in the following 3 years. After achieving the objectives of this development initiative, Japan is planning to prepare a new phase of appropriate programs in the region. Therefore, I ask all delegates from the ACMECS countries to work together on this front.

In regard with Japan's efforts towards the ACMECS 26 Projects submitted to development partners, please refer to the paper passed around to you. As can be seen from the document, Japan has supported and will continue to support a wide range of projects requested by the ACMECS countries. Japan remains committed to offer assistance in the fields of infrastructure such as roads network, power generation and communication network. Japan wants to see an increase in foreign direct investment into the Mekong region. Japan is ready to reinforce our joint efforts to tackle infections diseases such as Avian Influenza, and improve the quality of public health services and basic education in the region. Japan will consider carefully new list of 14 projects provided to us today. On the issue of upgrading the Savannakhet Airport in Laos, which I visited two days ago, JICA has finished the feasibility study. The detailed report has been submitted to the governments of Thailand and Laos respectively, potential joint partners in the management of the airport. If I may present the major points of this report, in order to reopen the airport and put it into the joint management, we need to be assured that there will be an enough demand of passengers. Of course, the forthcoming opening of the 2nd Mekong International Bridge will have a positive impact, but for now, I ask the two governments to make further efforts to the effect that an enough demand of passengers can be anticipated on an objective basis.

Mr. Chair,

I would like to conclude my remarks by reaffirming Japan's firm commitment to provide necessary assistance, in order to achieve the Mekong region development that is sustainable and beneficial for all the ACMECS countries and beyond. Japan is always besides the ACMECS member countries to cooperate as a friend and partner of Asia.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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