The Fifth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 5)
(Overview and Evaluation)

October 2004


  • The fifth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 5) was held in Hanoi, Viet Nam from October 7 to 9, 2004.
  • Participants from the Asian countries included all leaders of the ASEAN+3 (Japan, China and the ROK) countries except Myanmar, which was represented at a Cabinet minister's level and Indonesia where the presidential election had just ended. As for the European side, leaders of 10 countries and one organization that included France, Germany and the European Commission were in attendance (all others were represented at ministerial level).


  • At the meeting, the official approval was given to admit new members to ASEM, including the three Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and ten European countries that newly joined the European Union (EU). Following this enlargement, the leaders were able to frankly exchange opinions under the framework of substantial cooperation between the EU and ASEAN+3 on the main theme of how to further revitalize and substantiate the partnership between Asian and European countries.
  • Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi emphasized the need for the reform of the United Nations (UN) and appealed the significance of the international community's efforts on dealing with such issues as North Korea, terrorism and non-proliferation, maintaining a balance between economic growth and environmental protection, and the importance of cultural diversity.
  • As an Asian ASEM coordinator, Japan exerted its best efforts to serve as a bridge between Asia and Europe in coordinating for the 13 new countries to be admitted to ASEM, in negotiating and finalizing the Economic Declaration which called for the strengthening of economic relations between Asia and Europe, and in making proposals to consider the future form and functions of ASEM.

(Future actions by Japan)

Japan needs to take the following actions in keeping with the discussions at ASEM 5.

  • In order to prepare for the discussion at the ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting next May, formulate an approach and ideas on various issues with regard to the future of ASEM, including specific areas of cooperation in ASEM, improvement of the institutional mechanism, the issue of future membership enlargement.
  • Review and follow-up the recommendations submitted by the ASEM Task Force.
  • Review the recommendations made by the Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF).
  • Cooperate with other co-sponsors for the initiative "ASEM Cooperation in the Applications of ICT in Human Resource Development and Capacity Building."

1. Overview of discussion

(1) Approval of new admission (Evening of October 7)

Approval was given to admit the participation of three Asian and ten European countries to ASEM.

(2) Informal dinner reception: Regional situations in Europe and in Asia (Night of October 7)

The Asian side briefed on the move to formulate the East Asian Community, while the European side explained the status on the strengthening of EU integration and enlargement.

With regard to the situation in Myanmar, some European countries stated that the current level of national reconciliation and democratization in Myanmar was insufficient and expressed their wish for further progress in this area. In return, Myanmar explained its efforts towards national reconciliation and democratization and sought the understanding of the countries in attendance.

As for the situation in North Korea, many countries expressed their expectation that the nuclear issue be resolved through the Six-Party Talks.

Prime Minister Koizumi stated that he expects that constructive dialogues at ASEM will lead to democratization in Myanmar. Concerning North Korea, he asked for further support of the ASEM partners in solving the various issues, including abduction and nuclear development.

(3) Session 1: Political issues (Morning of October 8)

In the discussion on regional situations, it was stated that the international community should unite and cooperate in its assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq, and that it is vital that the elections will be carried out as scheduled for next January.

Many countries noted on the importance of the issues concerning North Korea to be peacefully resolved through the Six-Party Talks and that ASEM too shall cooperate in this regard.

As for the UN reform, the partners shared the view that multilateralism is the only tool to resolve international disputes, thus making it necessary to strive for the realization of the UN reform. However, various opinions were expressed as to the details, including the reforms of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

The issues of terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and infectious diseases were also discussed, and consensus was reached on the need to strengthen the measures by the international community to cope with them.

Prime Minister Koizumi stated that there is an increasing momentum for the UN reform, whose significance ASEM shall acknowledge and promote, and that Japan intends to strive for its advancement.

(4) Informal luncheon: Future of ASEM (Lunch time of October 8)

Taking the opportunity of the first enlargement of ASEM at this Summit, the future of ASEM was discussed.

At the outset, Prime Minister Koizumi expressed his intention to formulate an approach and ideas regarding the future of ASEM to be discussed at the ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Kyoto in May 2005. While supporting this view, leaders of other countries raised various opinions on (1) efficient priority areas in which ASEM should be engaged in dialogues and cooperation, (2) measures for management of ASEM, particularly regarding the appropriateness of establishing a Secretariat, and (3) further ASEM enlargement. The leaders agreed to adopt specific recommendations at the next summit meeting to be held in Finland in 2006, and tasked their foreign ministers and senior officials to work on these points.

(5) Session 2: Economic issues (Afternoon of October 8)

With the recent rapid surge in the price of crude oil, both Asian and European leaders expressed strong concerns over the impact of energy issues on economic growth. At the same time, leaders pointed out the importance for all participating countries to cooperate on global-scale issues, such as environmental issues including climate change and poverty reduction, in order to achieve sustainable economic development. Furthermore, many countries mentioned that ASEM shall continue and enhance its dialogues and cooperation concerning trade, as in the Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP) and policy dialogues related to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The leaders also agreed for the ministerial-level meetings concerned to follow up on the recommendations submitted by the ASEM Task Force for closer ASEM economic partnership.

Prime Minister Koizumi stressed the importance of maintaining a balance between economic growth and environmental protection, and particularly pointed out the significance of utilizing science and technology for that purpose. He also introduced that Japan is now striving towards the realization of a society of 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) through the adoption of the highest environmental standards in the world, and further mentioned about the Expo 2005 Aichi that Japan is hosting next year under the theme "Nature's Wisdom."

(6) Session 3: Culture and others (Morning of October 9)

While noting the historical background of their countries, many leaders emphasized the significance of cultural diversity and of dialogue among cultures and civilizations. Furthermore, the leaders referred to specific projects conducted within the framework of ASEM, such as dialogue among civilizations (the second ASEM Conference on Cultures and Civilizations (ministerial-level meeting in June 2005)), student and youth exchanges and sports exchanges (ASEM Youth Games in June 2005).

Prime Minister Koizumi, while referring to various art forms, stated that Japan has nurtured its unique culture under the influences from China, Korea and Europe. He further noted that Japan will cooperate in the activities of ASEM in this area while touching upon the importance of utilizing ICT in the cultural and social aspects.

2. Issued documents

The following three documents were issued after the above-mentioned discussions.

(1) Chairman's Statement

In the political field, the Chairman stated on strengthening of multilateralism and the UN reform including that of the Security Council; counterterrorism measures, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and regional situations (regional integration, the Korean Peninsula, Middle East Peace Process, Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar).

As for the economic field, the leaders instructed the ministers to review the recommendations submitted by the ASEM Task Force and agreed to strengthen ASEM collaboration towards a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. With regard to culture and others, the Statement includes the importance of cultural diversity and the approval by leaders of the recommendations for Organizational and Management Strategies and Long-Term Financial Sustainability of Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).

(2) Hanoi Declaration on Closer ASEM Economic Partnership

The declaration refers to fostering of a closer economic partnership between Asia and Europe; especially in promotion of cooperation in such areas as finance, energy, transport, IPR (intellectual property rights) protection, tourism, e-commerce, and SME facilitations; continuing efforts for sustained progress in the WTO Doha Round negotiation and its success; and holding of Economic Ministers' Meeting and Finance Ministers' Meeting at the earliest opportunity to review various proposals including the recommendations from the ASEM Task Force.

(3) ASEM Declaration on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilisations

The declaration includes a reaffirmation of cultural diversity as a common heritage of humanity; promotion of educational and cultural exchanges and cooperation, intellectual exchanges and sustainable tourism for promotion of dialogues; protection of cultural resources; placing priority for strengthening the activities of ASEF; and welcoming of the launch at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of negotiations for the formulation of an international convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions.

3. Japan's contribution to ASEM 5

(1) Coordination for the realization of ASEM enlargement

As for the issue of new membership of ASEM, there had been an impasse in which the European side requested the admission of ten European countries that newly joined the EU to ASEM while opposing Myanmar to join ASEM due to its domestic situation, and the Asian countries insisted that the three countries of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, which are members of ASEAN, but not yet gained ASEM membership, should be allowed to join ASEM.

Japan, understanding the position of the Asian countries, held various consultations with the European countries in cooperation with Viet Nam, the host country of ASEM 5, and contributed to the realization of the admission of 13 countries including Myanmar to ASEM.

(2) Hanoi Declaration on Closer ASEM Economic Partnership

As an ASEM coordinator, Japan cooperated with Viet Nam in formulating this Declaration since its initial drafting stages, and through numerous consultations and telephone conferences, greatly contributed to the issuance of this Declaration, together with other ASEM coordinators.

(3) Assistance for the activities of the ASEM Task Force

Various recommendations were submitted by the ASEM Task Force (Co-chair of the Asian side: Mr. Toyoo Gyohten, President of the Institute for International Monetary Affairs (IIMA)) to the ASEM leaders on the realization of closer economic partnership. Japan contributed to facilitating the activities of the Task Force by extending cooperation, such as provision of information related to ASEM and assistance for holding a meeting in Tokyo.

(4) Reform of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)

Japan drew up a draft proposal for the reform of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), which strives for the facilitation of mutual understanding between Asia and Europe, in order for ASEF to align itself more closely with various meetings of ASEM and to confirm that ASEF will continuously receive voluntary contribution for its financial sustainability. After the views of the ASEM partners were coordinated, these proposals (ANNEX 1 of the Chairman's Proposal) were successfully adopted at ASEM5.

(5) Recommendations for ASEM working methods and Proposal of ASEM Infoboard

From their conceptual stages, Japan actively promoted and gained consensus on the "Recommendations for ASEM working methods" which was endorsed at ASEM 5, as well as the ASEM Infoboard that has been launched as a pilot project.

4. Bilateral Meetings

During his stay in Hanoi, Prime Minister Koizumi held bilateral talks with President Jacques Chirac of France and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai of Viet Nam. Prime Minister Koizumi also had opportunities to discuss bilateral issues and the international situations with other Asian and European leaders over meals as well as before and after the summit sessions.

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