The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
1. The outline of ASEM
The ASEM consists of 51 countries and 2 organizations； 22 Asian members (21 countries and 1 organization(ASEAN Secretariat)), 31 European members (30 countries and 1 organization(European Union)). ASEM has provided opportunities for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe in a wide range of areas including politics, economy, culture and society.
2. The activities of ASEM
ASEM prioritizes these three areas: politics, economy, and culture & society. These areas are regarded as the three main pillars of ASEM activities, as outlined below:
(1) Political Pillar
The ASEM Summit Meeting is a unique forum where the leaders of the 53 members states/organizations have dialogues about issues of common interests to both regions and where statements or declarations are issued. The relevant issues, which are addressed in the context of the prevailing international situation, vary from major regional affairs to security and the international order, including the United Nations. Recently, global issues such as terrorism, maritime security, energy security, disaster prevention and migration have featured prominently on the agenda. At ASEM, which is an informal grouping, members can freely exchange opinions even with regard to issues concerning basic values such as the democracy, human rights, rule of law and freedom of speech.
(2) Economic Pillar
Focusing on globalization and sustainable development, ASEM members have discussed the development of a cooperative relationship between Asia and Europe in the areas of the economy and finance as well as concerning the challenges presented by global issues such as environmental problems, including climate change. ASEM has also promoted dialogue with the private sector, for example through close cooperation with the Asia Europe Business Forum (AEBF).
(3) Cultural & Social Pillar
On the premise that deeper mutual understanding between Asia and Europe is fostered by the reinforcement of cultural ties, especially the promotion of grass-roots exchange between two regions, ASEM has supported activities in the areas of culture, the arts and education as well as exchanges of young people and students between two regions.
3. The significance of ASEM for Japan
ASEM has the following significance for Japan:
- (1) Complementing other cooperative relationships At ASEM, Asia and Europe can make progress through dialogue and achieve concrete cooperation between the two regions. Such progress can complement some measures adopted in the existing frameworks. The concrete significance for each area is as follows: ASEM members have deepened the exchange of opinions with regard to the policies that they adopt together regarding regional affairs and threats to security, such as terrorism. ASEM members have made progress through cooperation on international economic and financial crises as well as sustainable development, including environmental issues and energy security. Many measures have been taken in order to promote dialogue and cooperation among ASEM members which have disparate social, cultural and historical backgrounds.
- (2) Contributing to the realization of open regionalism Japan can play a positive role in coordinating interaction between Asia and Europe. As a result of this, ASEM can be the framework in which the Asian and European members can deepen their interest in and understanding of each other. At the same time, Japan can strengthen the cooperative partnerships among Asian members and contribute to the realization of open regionalism in Asia. Japan has played enthusiastic roles in ASEM affairs, for instance through hosting the seventh Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2005, and it intends to add yet greater impetus to cooperation and dialogue between the Asian and European members.