Countries & Regions

July 27, 2013

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to three Southeast Asian countries—Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines—from Thusday, July 25 to Saturday, July 27. An overview of the meeting is as follows.

Itinerary

  1. Malaysia (July 25-26)

    A summit meeting with Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohammad Najib Tun Abdul Razak, a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Najib, a courtesy call by representatives of a group of former Malaysian students who studied in Japan

  2. Singapore (July 26)

    A courtesy call on President Tony Tan Keng Yam, a summit meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Lee, a courtesy call by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a speech on Japan's economic policies (Singapore Lecture) (PDF)

  3. The Philippines (July 26-27)

    A summit meeting with President Benigno Aquino, a luncheon hosted by President Aquino, a reception hosted by the Philippines-Japan Association

Overall Evaluation

  1. Results of Visit

    It was Prime Minister Abe's third visit to Southeast Asia since he returned to office, following visits to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia in January and to Myanmar in May. He has therefore visited seven of the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). At the meetings during the visit, the following points are commonly understood.

    • Incorporating the vitality of Asia into the revitalization of the Japanese economy.
    • Strengthening cooperation between the countries that share fundamental values such as the rule of law and human rights.
    • Further promoting exchanges on the occasion of the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.
    • Promoting economic partnerships and working together to draw up rules on trade and investment.
    • Making Asia-Pacific a free and open region governed by the rule of law, not by force.
  2. Strengthening of Bilateral Relations

    (1) Overview

    The first official visit by a Japanese Prime Minister in many years (*) provided momentum to deepen Japan's bilateral relations with Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, which have promoted market economy and free trade and achieved development together on the basis of a free and open ocean.

    *Note: Previous visits by a Japanese Prime Minister

    • Malaysia: Prime Minister Abe in August 2007 (about six years ago)
    • Singapore: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in January 2002 (about 11 and a half years ago)
    • The Philippines: Prime Ministers Abe in December 2006 (about six and a half years ago)

    (2) Strengthening of Economic Diplomacy

    Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines are the driving forces of ASEAN, which constitutes part of the growth center of the 21st century. Prime Minister Abe and leaders of the three countries reaffirmed cooperation mainly in the area of infrastructure, reflecting the recognition that incorporating the vitality of these countries will contribute to promoting "the Japan Revitalization Strategy."

    (3) Cooperation for Regional Peace and Prosperity

    Prime Minister Abe explained his policy of promoting strategic diplomacy in order to contribute to peace and prosperity in the region and the world, and stressed that Japan places special emphasis on its relationship with ASEAN. Leaders of the three Southeast Asian countries expressed the hope that Japan will play a more active role on regional peace and prosperity.

    (4) Strengthening of Exchange Programs

    The leaders agreed to promote human and cultural exchange programs based on policy measures such as Japan's visa exemptions for visitors from Malaysia, relaxation of visa requirements for visitors from the Philippines and "JENESYS 2.0," a youth exchange program announced by Prime Minister Abe in January.

Discussions at Summit Talks

  1. Japan-Malaysia Summit

    (1) Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Najib agreed to build a new bilateral relationship that is in line with the times and expressed their shared opinion on the directionality of the second wave of the "Look East Policy."

    (2) In economic affairs, the two leaders reaffirmed cooperation in infrastructure development, and agreed to work together to utilize Japan's high-level technologies in fields such as high-speed railways, water supply and sewage systems, and medical care. Prime Minister Najib welcomed Japan's entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks and the two leaders agreed to continue working together on the TPP. They welcomed progress in bilateral financial cooperation.

    (3) On the political and security front, the two leaders agreed to strengthen maritime cooperation between their defense authorities and maritime security institutions. Prime Minister Abe said Japan will continue to assist the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). The two leaders agreed to revitalize bilateral defense exchanges, and Prime Minister Abe expressed his hope that a memorandum of understanding for that purpose will be worked out soon between the two countries' defense authorities. Prime Minister Abe pledged Japan's continuing support for the Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Centre.

    (4) Prime Minister Abe explained the "JENESYS 2.0" youth exchange program and visa exemptions for visitors from Malaysia that came into force on July 1. The two leaders shared opinions regarding the importance of promoting mutual understanding.

    (5) The two leaders agreed to work closely toward the Japan-ASEAN Special Summit Meeting slated for December. They also exchanged opinions on the situation in the Asia-Pacific region, including issues related to the South China Sea and North Korea. Prime Minister Abe described to Prime Minister Najib the status of discussions and deliberations in Japan on constitutional amendment and the right of collective self-defense.

  2. Japan-Singapore Summit

    (1) Prime Minister Abe explained his efforts for realization of "the Japan Revitalization Strategy" and said his government will implement policy measures under the strategy in rapid succession. Prime Minister Lee said a revival of the Japanese economy is important for regional development. The two leaders reaffirmed cooperation in infrastructure exports, with an eye on ASEAN Connectivity and cooperation for infrastructure exports to third countries, as well as collaboration in economic partnership negotiations, including those for the TPP and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and in the promotion of the "Cool Japan". Regarding the response to the common problem of the falling birthrate and the aging society, Prime Minister Abe expressed his hope that the two countries will make good use of Japan's strengths and make further progress in cooperation in the fields of biotechnology and medicine. He also said Japan will promote direct investments from overseas and hopes to hold an investment promotion seminar aimed at businesses in Singapore. The two leaders welcomed progress in bilateral financial cooperation.

    (2) In the political and security areas, the two leaders agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on logistical support to contribute to peace and stability in the international community. They also concurred on the importance of deepening exchanges of younger politicians between the two countries from the viewpoint of developing a better mutual understanding. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong invited Prime Minister Abe to the "Shangri-la Dialogue" planned next spring and Prime Minister Abe expressed his gratitude for the invitation.

    (3) The two leaders agreed to work together at the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December to produce results for the future of ASEAN-Japan relations in the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. They also exchanged views on the situation in the Asia-Pacific region, including issues related to the South China Sea and North Korea. Prime Minister Abe described to Prime Minister Lee the status of discussions and deliberations in Japan on constitutional amendment and the right of collective self-defense.

  3. Japan-Philippines Summit

    (1) Prime Minister Abe unveiled "Four Initiatives" for Japan's policy toward the Philippines that are intended to strengthen the "Strategic Partnership" between the two countries for joint prosperity. President Aquino expressed his gratitude for Japan's support.

    • (a) First Initiative: Developing Vibrant Economies Together

      The two leaders agreed that the two countries will promote cooperation in infrastructure building based on the "transportation and traffic roadmap" for Metro Manila area that was drawn up with Japanese assistance. Prime Minister Abe offered 10-billion-yen assistance as the first "post-disaster recovery standby credit." He expressed his expectation that the Japanese digital terrestrial television broadcasting system will be adopted by the Philippines.

    • (b) Second Initiative: Promoting Maritime Cooperation

      The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of dialogue on maritime and oceanic affairs and agreed to push forward with practical cooperation between the two countries' defense authorities and coast guards, including joint exercises. Prime Minister Abe said Japan will use its yen loan program to provide 10 patrol vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard in order to boost its capabilities. He also informed President Aquino of a decision to send experts to the Philippines to help increase the safety of coastal shipping.

    • (c) Third Initiative: Strengthening Assistance to the Mindanao Peace Process

      Prime Minister Abe detailed Japan's plans to strengthen assistance in accordance with progress in peace negotiations, centering on the three pillars: (i) community development assistance, (ii) support for human resources development in the transition process, and (iii) economic development assistance to achieve sustainable growth.

    • (d) Fourth Initiative: Further Promoting Human Exchanges

      Prime Minister Abe explained the "JENESYS 2.0" youth exchange program and a relaxation of visa requirements for visitors from the Philippines. The two leaders agreed to further facilitate exchange programs between their countries.

    (2) The two leaders agreed to work closely toward the ASEAN-Japan Special Summit in December, and exchanged views on issues in the Asia-Pacific region, including those related to the South China Sea. Prime Minister Abe described to President Aquino the status of discussions and deliberations in Japan on constitutional amendment and the right of collective self-defense.


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