Overview of the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting

July 13, 2012

  • (Photo)Overview of the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting-1
  • (Photo)Overview of the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting-2
  • (Photo)Overview of the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting-3

The following is an overview of the 19th ARF Ministerial Meeting held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 12, 2012.

1. Significance of the Meeting

The participating Ministers exchanged views in a candid manner on the issues of North Korea, South China Sea and Myanmar.

In particular, with the recent heightened tension among the countries involved in the South China Sea issue, a strong message was sent out from international community through the Meeting on the importance of reaching a peaceful resolution based on international law.

2. Regional situation

The following is a summary of the points raised by Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs, on key regional issues.

(1) Korean Peninsula

Minister Gemba touched upon the fact that the missile launch by North Korea in April constituted a grave violation of a series of UN Security Council resolutions, and emphasized the importance to show clearly a firm stance of the international community against North Korea's nuclear related activities in a concerted manner. Furthermore, he added that although the Six-Party Talks remains a viable framework for solving various issues, North Korea first need to take concrete steps towards denuclearization.
With regard to the abduction issue, Minister Gemba said that it remains a serious concern as well as an international issue that is linked to the lives and safety of the people, and demanded North Korea's positive actions. (In response, North Korea repeated its original position that the abduction issue has already been resolved.)

(2) South China Sea

Minister Gemba pointed out that the South China Sea issue is directly related to peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, and is thus a common matter of interests for the international community, including Japan. He emphasized that all claimants should further clarify their claims in accordance with the relevant international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the importance of the adherence to the relevant international laws, including to refrain from unilateral actions.

(Each of the countries stated that the issue should be resolved in a peaceful manner in line with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They also expressed their expectations for the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC), which is planned to be discussed between China and ASEAN.)

(3) Myanmar

Minister Gemba appreciated the engagement by the Myanmar Government towards democratization, and pointed out the importance of further assistance towards democratization by international community. (Each of the countries expressed the necessity of the early removal of sanctions on Myanmar, as well as the same opinions as Japan.)

3. Other matters

At the Meeting, participants discussed the future shape that the ARF would take. They reaffirmed the importance of collaborating with other regional frameworks such as the EAS and ADMM Plus, as well as the importance of the central and unifying role played by ASEAN in moving the ARF forward.

Back to Index