Statement by Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda
at the Post-Ministerial Conferences ASEAN+1 Session
July 29, 1997
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Your Excellency Mr. Prachuab,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand,
ASEAN, commemorating its thirtieth anniversary this year, began as a means to foster confidence among the countries within the region and to strengthen national and regional resilience and has developed in a unique process of deepening cooperative relationships through a body of agreements. It has thus gradually contributed to building an order in today's Asia-Pacific. While this region continues to demonstrate dynamic developments while having its own share of elements of instability, the role of ASEAN should be highly appreciated.
The conflicts in Southeast Asia under the Cold War framework now being a thing of the past, Laos and Myanmar have now become members, following the formal admission of Viet Nam in 1995. Japan hopes that the enlargement of ASEAN membership will contribute to the peace and stability of Southeast Asia and that it will provide an impetus for ASEAN to play an increased international role.
With regard to Cambodia, Japan intends to continue to encourage its leaders toward improvement of the situation so that the peace once achieved by major efforts on the part of the international community, including Japan, will not be set back.
As ASEAN continues the process of deepening and enlargement to become a major actor in international relations against the backdrop of the economic growth of each member country, Japan-ASEAN relations have also seen deepening and enlargement in recent years. Japan and ASEAN countries have long been building a close relationship: Japan was the first dialogue partner and has been engaged in Foreign Ministerial dialogues since the creation of the Post-Ministerial Conferences. In the early stage of the dialogue, the main focus of attention on both sides was economic and cultural cooperation between Japan and ASEAN as well as issues concerning the former Indochina. Today, our cooperation has become multilayered in a variety of areas, reflecting on broader international perspective.
Prime Minister Hashimoto's initiatives in January for wider and deeper relationships between Japan and ASEAN, and his proposals to ASEAN leaders for strengthened dialogues and exchanges, enhanced cultural cooperation, and cooperation on global problems faced by the international community, are all intended to accelerate such developments and thereby to promote further mutual understanding and policy coordination. I am happy to note that Prime Minister Hashimoto's proposals have been welcomed by ASEAN countries and that there have already been some concrete progress made: a decision to hold the Japan- ASEAN Summit at the end of this year to enhance dialogue at the leaders' level, the preparation for the dispatch of the Multinational Cultural Mission, and the establishment of the network for exchanging information on terrorism. The Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting to be held in December not only symbolizes the maturity of relations between Japan and ASEAN but is also significant in that it marks the starting point of our search for a new relationship fitting for a new era.
I hope that the occasion will provide an opportunity to indicate mid-term directions for Japan-ASEAN cooperation, thereby setting the course for our steady cooperation. The details pertaining to the direction of cooperation will have to be thoroughly considered by both sides, but we believe that cooperation in the following areas are important.
In the political area, we hope to together maintain peace and stability, both regional and global, through our exchange of views on the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, which form the basis for regional security, enhancement of the ASEAN Regional Forum process and cooperation for the Korean Energy Development Organization.
In the economic area, through strengthened market links by economic cooperation such as ASEAN's promotion of AFTA and its implementation of AICO, it is hoped that the environment for corporate activities will be improved and trade and investment relations will be further solidified.
As regards economic cooperation, it is important to join forces for the development of the regional economy and eradication of poverty through such means as support for the elimination of economic differences within ASEAN, continuing cooperation toward enhanced human resources development, infrastructure improvement through private sector initiatives, and the promotion of tripartite cooperation to underdeveloped regions within ASEAN in conjunction with some of the ASEAN countries. Japan also intends to assist ASEAN countries' cooperation to countries of other regions; in particular, we will together address poverty in Africa, drawing on the outcomes of the Second Asia-Africa Forum which was held in June in Bangkok as we prepare for the Second Tokyo Conference for African Development.
Furthermore, not only do we cooperate actively for the preservation and development of each country's own culture, we also promote understanding of each other's culture so that we may live together in better harmony. Also, we will make efforts to build broad and rich friendly relations by way of promoting cultural and artistic exchanges, exchanges of people including students, intellectuals, and businessmen and expanded exchanges at the local community level.
It is also important for Japan and ASEAN, partners in the international community, to pursue policy coordination in the context of the U.N., WTO, APEC, and ASEM with a view to developing systems of political and economic cooperation in regional and global communities.
In dealing with the problems faced by the international community, we should identify areas of higher priority and initiate cooperative efforts wherever possible. The environment and terrorism,both of which I have referred to earlier are among such areas. As we promote the "Initiatives for Sustainable Development toward the 21st Century (ISD)" which Japan unveiled at the UN Special Session for the purpose of an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Agenda 21 last June, we intend to work with ASEAN through such cooperation projects as the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia and the promotion of environmental education. This coming December, when the Third Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention for Climate Change convenes in Kyoto, it will provide an occasion to decide on the international efforts after 2000 for the prevention of global warming. Preventing global warming requires efforts of the entire international community; we seek ASEAN countries' cooperation in making the Kyoto Conference a success.
With regard to such issues as international crime including the illicit trafficking of drug and arms, which we have proposed to discuss under the APEC, we will also explore the possibility of first working together between Japan and ASEAN. We also intend to pursue our cooperation in a variety of areas including the follow-up of the East Asia Ministerial Conference on Caring Society held last December in Okinawa to improve the health and welfare of the entire world.
These elements pertaining to the direction of our further cooperation have been conveyed to the ASEAN side on several occasions at the officials' level. I hope that we will come to share common perspectives through our discussions today, and will establish the basis for our officials' further discussion on the concrete items of cooperation in preparation for the Summit Meeting in December.
In closing, I would like to express our most heartfelt appreciation to the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand for its devoted efforts as a coordinating country for Japan.
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