- ● Given changes to the strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region and ASEAN’s economic growth, ASEAN’s presence and role in the region have been enhanced. It is therefore important that Japan further strengthen cooperation with ASEAN member states, not only on economic issues, but also other areas, such as security and political affairs.
- ● As part of this endeavor, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Southeast Asia as his first trip abroad, which marks a kick-off the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. During his trip, Prime Minister Abe outlined the following “Five Principles” of Japan’s ASEAN Diplomacy on January 18, 2013:
- (1) Protect and promote together with ASEAN member states universal values, such as freedom, democracy and basic human rights;
- (2) Ensure in cooperation with ASEAN member states that the free and open seas, which are the most vital common asset, are governed by laws and rules and not by force, and to welcome the United States’ rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region;
- (3) Further promote trade and investment, including flows of goods, money, people and services, through various economic partnership networks, for Japan’s economic revitalization and prosperity of both Japan and ASEAN member states;
- (4) Protect and nurture Asia’s diverse cultural heritages and traditions;
- (5) Promote exchanges among the young generations to further foster mutual understanding.
2. Japan-ASEAN Relations
- ● Japan has supported the growth of ASEAN member states, particularly in infrastructure and human resource development; two areas that form the foundation of ongoing development in the ASEAN region. The “heart to heart” relationship, an approach first articulated in what became known as the “Fukuda Doctrine” in 1977, is now well established among Japan and ASEAN member states.
- ● ASEAN and Japan have also established close business ties. In 2011, the total volume of trade between ASEAN and Japan reached US$248 billion. ASEAN is now Japan’s second largest trading partner. In addition, Japanese foreign direct investment into the region increased to 1.5 trillion yen (approx. US$18.8 billion) in 2011, making ASEAN the second most common destination for Japanese enterprises behind the EU.
3. 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation
- ● 2013 marks the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. Throughout the year, Japan and ASEAN member states will conduct exchange projects in a wide range of fields, including political dialogue, economy, culture, sport, and tourism, as well as youth exchange projects, which will be reinvigorated by the “JENESYS 2.0” project.
- ● An ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit meeting is scheduled to be held in Japan in December, 2013.