TOKYO: Japan will continue to be an important dialogue partner to South-east Asian nations as the region grows further to become one of the world’s great economic force.
Asean, which is celebrating its 40 years of ties with Japan, has acknowledged its partner’s contribution to regional growth, particularly in economy and capacity-building.
Moving forward, the grouping and its dialogue partner have outlined their way forward in the Vision Statement on Asean-Japan Friend-ship and Co-operation, focusing on them becoming partners for peace and stability, prosperity and quality of life.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that Asean had enjoyed four decades of good relations with Japan, adding that the dialogue partner had made good on the promise made by former prime minister Takeo Fukuda in 1977 to be “good partners, walking hand in hand with Asean”.
“The vision statement outlines the way forward to our relations,” he told the Malaysian media after attending the 40th Asean-Japan Commemorative Summit.
Najib said the statement among others touched on security and co-operation to ensure regional stability, by overcoming issues through discussions instead of violence.
The same approach should be used in determining maritime and aviation safety and security, he said.
The issue of China-Japan relations was mentioned in the context of the need for everyone to ensure stability in this part of the world and that peaceful negotiations should be pursued, said Najib.
While Japan did not specifically seek Malaysia’s role to maintain regional stability, Najib said the principle was for countries in the region to settle overlapping claims through discussion.
It was reported that Japanese officials had described the security situation in its East Asian neighbourhood as “severe” and “rapidly deteriorating” and have sought support from the United States and other Asian countries in protesting China’s declaration of a maritime air defence zone over the East China Sea, and in objecting to the possibility that Beijing might establish a similar zone over South China Sea.
Najib, during intervention at the summit, had acknowledged the contributions of Japan – Asean’s first dialogue partner – to regional growth.
He also spoke on economic co-operation and Japan being the biggest investor in Asean, adding that future co-operation would be to connect the small and medium enterprises and developing strategic areas in which its partner had the edge. “I also raised the need for us to look not only at common interest but also values,” he said.
Asean and Japan have also placed commitment to promoting human resource development and overcoming socio-economic and environmental issues by, among others, strengthening partnership in agriculture and food security, poverty eradication and improving healthcare.
The leaders also pledged to continue to strengthen mutual trust and “heart-to-heart” understanding and nurture friendship by enhancing co-operation in education, and promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
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