Countries & Regions

March 26, 2013
The 9th Japan-Singapore Symposium, co-sponsored by The Japan Forum on International Relations and The Institute of Policy Studies of the National University of Singapore under the auspices of both Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Singapore, was held in Tokyo from March 25 to March 26, 2013, and the Summary of the symposium is as follows.
This symposium was attended by government officials of both countries, opinion leaders from politics, academia, business, and media. The leader of the Japan delegation was His Excellency Mr. SUZUKI Shunichi, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. The leader of the Singapore delegation was Her Excellency, Ms. Grace FU, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, 2nd Minister for Foreign Affairs, and 2nd Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. Mr. SUZUKI and Ms. Grace FU made respectively keynote addresses. The co-chairs were Prof. YACHI Shotaro, special advisor to the cabinet (former Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs) and Prof. Tommy KOH, special advisor of IPS (Ambassador at large) (All participants' names are in the attached PDF file).
Held over two days, the symposium met behind closed doors on the first day. Session I focused on the theme of “Changes in the Regional Strategic Environment and Impact on Regional Players”. Presentations were made by Associate Professor KAWASHIMA Shin from Tokyo University’s Graduate School; and Mr. Nicholas FANG, Executive Director, Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) and Nominated Member of Parliament. The discussants were Associate Professor MICHISHITA Narushige from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) and Mr. HAN Fook Kwang, Managing Editor, English and Malay Newspaper Division, Singapore Press Holdings. Session II focused on the theme of “Maritime Issues in the Region and Establishment of the Order of the Law of the Sea”. Presentations were made by Mr. KANEDA Hideaki, Director, The Okazaki Institute, as well as Associate Professor Robert BECKMAN, Director, Centre for International Law (CIL), National University of Singapore. Mr. MIYAKE Kunihiko, Research Director, The Canon Institute for Global Studies, as well as Senior Research Fellow Dr. LAM Peng Er from East Asian Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore led the discussion.
The brief summary of the discussion of both sessions are as follows.
Session I : “Changes in the Regional Strategic Environment and Impact on Regional Players”
(Importance of the further regional cooperation)
The participants discussed several traditional/non-traditional strategic issues in the Asia-Pacific region of mutual interest. Concerning China’s rapid development and its growing role on the international stage, the participants agreed that it is very important to engage in constructive cooperation with her and to manage differences through dialogue and other peaceful means.  
Session II : “Maritime Issues in the Region and Establishment of the Order of the Law of the Sea”
(The necessity of constructing the maritime order with China)
The participants emphasized the necessity to maintain and strengthen regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, in order to address regional issues and to maintain peace, stability and prosperity. Particularly, they discussed that it is essential for Japan and Singapore, both as maritime nations, to cooperate in ensuring the freedom of navigation in the sea lanes of communications for the development of commerce and trade in Asia. These efforts should be made on the basis of related international law including UNCLOS and also be made in the spirit of equality and reciprocity. 
(The engagement of the United States)
The participants also recognized the important role of the US in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The Obama Administration’s policy of rebalancing to Asia should be connected to the overall development of the Asia-Pacific region from the political, economic and security perspectives.
During the lunch time, Mr. SHIOZAKI Yasuhisa, Member of the House of Representatives, delivered his remarks entitled “ ‘Abenomics’ with Three Arrows: Towards the Revival of Japan’s Economy.” At the end of the first day, representatives from both countries were hosted by Mr. SUZUKI Shunichi, Senior Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Welcome Reception which was held at the International House of Japan.
Session III held on the second day focused on the theme of “Japan-ASEAN Relations: Retrospect, Prospect and a Roadmap to the Future”. With the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit, which will be held in Japan in December 2013, in mind, the participants were encouraged to take stock of what has been achieved and to propose new ideas and initiatives for the future. Our aspiration is to make recommendations which could feed into the preparation for the Commemorative Summit. Presentations were made by Professor URATA Shujiro, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University; and Mr. Manu Bhaskaran, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, IPS. Dr. SHIRAISHI Takashi, President, GRIPS and Ms. LOW Yen Ling, Member of Parliament and Chief Executive Officer, Business China, Singapore were the discussants.  
In Session III, the participants shared that ASEAN remains a very attractive investment destination for Japan, and, in terms of the return on investment, ASEAN ranks number one in the world. They also shared that with improvements in ASEAN's infrastructure, improvements in ASEAN's business environment, improvements in the rule of law and good governance, ASEAN will become a more attractive destination for Japanese investment. The participants also agreed that the incremental integration of the ASEAN at the regional and sub-regional levels are also bearing fruit. Japan side indicated that, as the ASEAN-Japan relationship is mutually beneficial and very important for both sides, Japan has contributed to this integration and will continue to support the integration efforts. The participants also discussed that, as part of Japan's economic strategy for ASEAN, Japan could use Singapore as a gateway to ASEAN, to the rest of Asia and the World.
Over the two-day symposium, the participants reaffirmed the close relations between Japan and Singapore, and also recognized that a stable and peaceful environment would be vital for the fastest growing region in the world today. The participants of this symposium emphasized the need for both countries to work together and with ASEAN and other ASEAN-centric institutions, to continuously contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the region. They also agreed that Japan and Singapore will work closely together in the World Trade Organization (WTO), in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, and will support free trade, open economies and globalisation. At the end of the symposium, the participants welcomed the forthcoming visit to Japan by Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong to attend the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December.

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