The 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
On August 3, commencing at 5:15 p.m. for 1 hour and 50 minutes, the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held in an online format. Dato Seri Setia Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs II, Brunei Darussalam, chaired the meeting. From the Japanese side, Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, attended.
- At the outset, Minister Motegi expressed his congratulations for the achievements of the athletes representing the ASEAN countries, as well as China and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and wished for their continued success. Minister Motegi then made the following statements regarding progress in Japan’s cooperation concerning COVID-19.
- (1) First, in the healthcare and medical field, Japan is providing comprehensive support for ensuring equitable access to safe, effective, and quality-assured vaccines by as many people as possible. This year, Japan has provided a total of 9.6 million doses of vaccines manufactured in Japan to ASEAN countries and is implementing “Last One Mile Support” amounting to approximately 2.5 billion yen aimed at providing cold chain equipment. Furthermore, Japan has decided to provide oxygen concentrators to those ASEAN countries where infections are rapidly spreading.
- (2) Second, Japan has provided financial assistance loans totaling 185 billion yen to ASEAN countries as support to revitalize the economy.
- (3) Third, with regard to the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases, in order to develop the Centre into a hub for the region’s fight against public health emergencies and emerging infectious diseases, Japan will continue to provide full support through, among others, the construction of the Centre and provision of equipment through the approximate 50 million US dollars Japan has already contributed via the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund, as well as technical cooperation such as training and the dispatch of experts.
- With regard to ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, Minister Motegi made the following statements.
- (1) Japan welcomes the entry into force of the amended Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation Agreement. The ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), whose operation has been improved so as to be able to respond to COVID-19, is important from a food security standpoint, and Japan will continue to provide support for it. In December this year, Japan plans to hold the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021 aimed at resolving nutritional challenges. Japan encourages participation by all countries.
- (2) Amid rising protectionism, it is important to establish a free and fair economic order. Japan has completed all domestic procedures for and accepted the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, in which all ASEAN Plus Three countries participate. Its early entry into force and ensuring its steady implementation are of the utmost importance and Japan will work together with other countries in this regard.
- (3) The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), formulated by ASEAN itself, is of the utmost importance for the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, and for realizing a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. It is important to promote concrete cooperation in AOIP’s priority areas and Japan will also advance cooperation projects that give shape to the principles set forth in the AOIP.
- (4) The driving forces of growth in the post-COVID-19 era will be “green” and “digital”. With regard to “green”, Japan will advance cooperation with the ASEAN countries to accelerate the transition to a decarbonized society. Concerning “digital”, Japan will promote efforts that contribute to the development of a free and open digital space, including the development of infrastructure and fostering of human resources.
- In response, the ASEAN side expressed its gratitude for cooperation for ASEAN’s response to COVID-19, including Japan, China and the ROK’s contributions to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and provision of vaccines, and Japan’s support for the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases, and made statements emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation in relation to COVID-19 countermeasures and post-COVID-19 recovery.
- Regarding the regional and international affairs, Minister Motegi stated that the full implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), including by countering “ship-to-ship transfers”, is critical towards achieving the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, and asked for continued understanding and cooperation in relation to the abductions issue.
The ASEAN side made statements concerning the importance of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of the UNSCRs. There were remarks on support for the resolution of the abductions issue.
In addition, Minister Motegi expressed serious concern over the situation in Myanmar, while also expressing his great appreciation for the efforts of ASEAN to turn around the situation, stating the importance of swiftly ensuring that the Five-Point Consensus leads to concrete outcomes, such as the dispatch of special envoys, and expressing Japan’s intention to strongly support initiatives by ASEAN. Furthermore, regarding humanitarian assistance, Minister Motegi stated that Japan is providing support such as food and daily necessities to the people of Myanmar and intends to continue to provide assistance to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre).
In response, the ASEAN countries mentioned their intention to work towards the swift implementation of the Five-Point Consensus on the situation in Myanmar and the importance of humanitarian assistance for the people of Myanmar.