Speech by Prof. Akiko Yamanaka, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan at the reception on the occasion of an Eminent Person's Committee meeting on the Reform of the ASEAN-Japan Centre

Vice-Minister Akiko Yamanaka Vice-Minister Akiko Yamanaka

Tokyo, April 4, 2006

Excellencies, Representatives of the Eminent Persons' Committee on the Reform of the ASEAN-Japan Centre,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government of Japan, I wish to extend a very warm welcome to all of you, and express sincere gratitude for coming today in spite of your busy schedules.

Since its establishment in 1981, the ASEAN-Japan Centre has been playing a crucial and important role in strengthening the foundation of ASEAN-Japan relations in the areas of trade, investment and tourism. The prestige and credibility of the Centre has been widely recognized both in Japan and ASEAN countries.

During the quarter century since the foundation of the ASEAN-Japan Centre in 1981, ASEAN and Japan has established a firm and strong partnership, which has contributed to the peace and prosperity of the region and enabled us to take concerted efforts to address common challenges confronting the region. This has been reconfirmed by our leaders at the ASEAN-Japan Summit last December in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On the other hand, as the international community has been experiencing a variety of changes since the end of the Cold War, the reform of the Centre has become imperative so that the Centre can respond more effectively to the diverse needs of the new era.

The Eminent Persons' Committee was established on this recognition, and it has been performing quite actively. I am very much encouraged to learn that every Eminent Person, who is here with us today, has been appointed by respective governments for their abundant knowledge and experience in overall ASEAN-Japan relations. The Committee met twice, in May in Tokyo and in early October in Bali, Indonesia, last year and the results of these meetings have already been reported to our leaders. Building upon the results of the two aforementioned meetings, I look forward to the Committee's producing a very suggestive and complete report with recommendations as its end product.

The challenge then is to ensure that the recommendations of EPC will be translated into concrete actions. Here, I believe our political commitment to the reform of the Centre will be constantly put to the test along the way but I am confident that the reform of the Centre will be undertaken without delay.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Finally, I would like to conclude my remarks by expressing my sincere hope that, building upon cooperative relationship between ASEAN and Japan, the Centre will make even more contribution to furthering peace and stability of the region, and offering my sincerest wishes to your continued health and prosperity.

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