ASEAN remains big priority in Japan’s foreign policy

Thursday, 2017-03-02 15:25:50
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Participants at the 32nd ASEAN-Japan Forum join in a group photo. (Credit: VNA)
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NDO/VNA—Japan affirmed that ASEAN remains a big priority in its foreign policy at the 32nd ASEAN-Japan Forum, which was held in Banda Seri Begawan, Brunei from March 1-2.

The event was co-chaired by Bruneian Deputy Foreign Minister Emaleen and Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung.

The forum reviewed ASEAN-Japan cooperation, emphasising that Japan has become an important partner of the group in all spheres. Japan affirmed its support for ASEAN’s central role in an evolving regional architecture. It also welcomed the theme and the six priorities of ASEAN 2017, noting that it is ready to participate in and assist with the realisation of these priorities, along with activities to mark the 50th founding anniversary of ASEAN.

The two sides also renewed their commitment to continuing close cooperation in the fields listed in the Vision Statement on ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, including economics, quality of life, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security.

In terms of the economy, they agreed to effectively implement the ASEAN-Japan ten-year strategic economic cooperation roadmap (2012-2022), which was updated in 2015, to step up ties in all respects, especially trade, investment, infrastructure development, manpower training and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprise development.

Japan pledged to keep helping ASEAN to carry out the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

Both sides also advocated regional economic connections and trade facilitation processes in the interest of high-quality, equal and transparent free trade agreements.

Regarding cultural and social issues, ASEAN appreciated Japan’s assistance and cooperation on climate change response, natural disaster management, environmental protection, improvement of community healthcare capacity, disease prevention and people-to-people exchanges. The bloc supports the Japanese Government’s continuation of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths until 2020.

At the forum, ASEAN countries and Japan stressed the need for cooperation and to bring into play such mechanisms as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum and the ASEAN-Japan Dialogue so as to combat terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, transnational crime and cybercrime, and to enhance marine security.

They also voiced concern about recent developments in the Korean Peninsula and the East Sea situation, underlining the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea and peacefully resolving disputes on the basis of international law.

Deputy Minister Dung said Vietnam treasures the ASEAN-Japan strategic partnership and welcomes the recent outcomes of bilateral cooperation.

Speaking on behalf of ASEAN, he said the two sides should implement the plans approved by their leaders through concrete cooperation mechanisms, frameworks and projects, including carrying out the ASEAN-Japan ten-year strategic economic cooperation roadmap and amending the implementation plan for the Vision Statement on ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

Navigation and aviation connectivity between ASEAN and Japan should be strengthened, he said, elaborating that they need to finalise a bilateral agreement on aviation services soon.

They need to cooperate to develop human resources for the building of a people-orientated and -centred ASEAN Community while paying attention to providing vocational training and career guidance for ASEAN youths. They also need to bolster political and security cooperation and respond to traditional and non-traditional security challenges in a timely fashion, Dung noted.

Repeating the stance of Vietnam and other ASEAN members on the East Sea issue, he stressed the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes through complying with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, respecting legal and diplomatic processes, not using or threatening to use force, exercising self-restraint, not conducting militarisation activities, effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and finalising a Code of Conduct for the waters as soon as possible.

He delivered Vietnam’s wish for ASEAN member countries to step up collaboration in combating transnational criminals.