His Excellency Mr. Yukihiko Ikeda Minister
For Foreign Affairs of Japan
At The Post-Ministerial Conferences
Jakarta, July 24, 1996
Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Amnuay Viravan, Distinguished Delegates of the ASEAN countries, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be able to attend this meeting here today to discuss the relations between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations together with the representatives of the ASEAN member states under the chairmanship of H.E. Minister Amnuay.
Japan, as I surely do not have to repeat, has been placing great emphasis on the role of the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences as a forum for comprehensive dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region.
I would like to take this opportunity once again to express my gratitude to the Government of Indonesia for the great efforts for the success of the Conferences, the Thai government, which acted as the coordinating country for Japan, and all those ASEAN officials concerned.
(The role of ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific region)
Six year have already passed since the previous ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences which was held here in Jakarta in 1990. During this period, the Asia-Pacific region is continuing to achieve steady economic development, and relations of interdependence are growing deeper.
As you are aware, before last year's ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference, Japan pointed out three points that the Asia-Pacific region should take into consideration when promoting regional cooperation. Namely, first, cooperation in the region as a whole should be further deepened on the basis of clear recognition that the regional prosperity feeds national prosperity and should serve to further region-wide cooperation. Second, Asia-Pacific regional cooperation should build upon the various interlocking frameworks for cooperation. Third, Asia-Pacific regional cooperation should be open to extra-regional players.
Since then , during the past year, cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region has achieved remarkable success including the progress of ARF and APEC as well as the inauguration of the Asia-Europe Meeting. I would like here to think again about the role of the spirit of "cooperation in diversity," which lies behind these success.
It goes without saying that the Asia-Pacific region is truly varied in terms of ethnic groups, religions, languages, customs, stages of economic development, and so on. At times, this diversity might be a factor obstructing mutual understanding, but on the contrary, it can also be a powerful driving force towards the future.
In this respect, I believe that ASEAN truly serves as a significant model. Since the foundation in 1967, through undergoing many difficult situations and recognizing as facts the diversity of the region, ASEAN has been showing good examples to learn how the people living in the region can cooperate with one another and bring about their mutual development. The central spirit under these achievements is consolidated under the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and it can be extremely beneficial when considering various forms of regional cooperation from now on.
Vietnam became a full member of ASEAN in July 1995, and I know that Cambodia and Laos are making preparations toward the full membership for next year. Furthermore, Myanmar has just acquired the observer status. Japan welcomes these moves as contributing to the stability of Southeast Asia.
(Japan-ASEAN relations as partners)
Nowadays we are living at a time of interdependent ties that are deeper than ever before. What is needed in the post-Cold War era is to build cooperative relations at various levels and to promote them in such a way that we contribute to the stability and development of the international community as a whole. Furthermore, we expect that the experience and wisdom of ASEAN's "cooperation in diversity" should be as a model for other regions and that ASEAN will make further contributions to the international community as a whole in the economic field, in the political and security fields, and in the field of global issues and so on. Japan looks forward to cooperating with ASEAN, maintaining even stronger bonds of friendship, and combining our strength as "partners" in tackling the various issues that the Asia-Pacific region and the world face.
As the twenty-first century is just around the corner, we are facing various problems of a global scale. Many of these problems are closely related to the development of the Asia-Pacific region. Our efforts will be highly significant for the future of this region and of the earth. Although Asia is enjoying prosperity, prosperity can cause some problems.
For example, economic development in Asia brings enormous benefits to the world as a whole, but at the same time there is concern, common to us all, that the impact of the rapid increase in demand for energy and food, the increased emission of greenhouse-effect gases and so on might increase the load on the environment, if unattended. These issues might bear not only economic but also political and security implications through, for example, the intensification of competition for access to limited resources and environmental destruction in surrounding areas. Japan, at last year's APEC Osaka Conference, emphasized the importance of medium and long-term efforts to tackle these problems, and I believe that the necessity for further dialogue and cooperation between Japan and ASEAN in these areas is being enhanced rapidly.
Furthermore, Japan and ASEAN are cooperating each other in promoting development in other regions expected to grow, and Japan would like to further strengthen these efforts. For example, Japan has been actively involved in the development of the Mekong River Basin, and is this respect, ASEAN held the Ministerial Meeting in Malaysia this June with the riparian states. Japan believes it extremely fruitful to strengthen the ties between Japan and ASEAN in this area. Japan and ASEAN have already jointly implemented refugee resettlement and rural development projects in Cambodia. And, moreover, Japan is extending economic assistance to African countries in tandem with some of the ASEAN countries. Japan expects that these types of joint assistance between ASEAN and Japan could become a model of development aid in the future.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our determination that, as we approach the twenty-first century, Japan intends to move forward hand-in hand with the ASEAN countries and contribute to the future of the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole.
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