ASEAN-JAPAN COOPERATION TOWARDS THE 21ST CENTURY

The Heads of State/Government of the member states of ASEAN and the Prime Minister of Japan noted with satisfaction that their countries had fostered a close cooperative relationship over the years, contributing to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. Recognising the need to build upon the foundation of their relationship and the importance of concerted efforts to address common challenges confronting the region and the world, they resolved to further advance ASEAN-Japan cooperation towards the twenty-first century, with a view to achieving a more profound and wide-ranging relationship by building upon existing amity.

Intensifying dialogues for an enhanced partnership

2. They expressed their determination to work together to ensure that future generations would live in peace and stability and that social and economic development would be sustained. With a view to fostering an enhanced partnership, they decided to intensify dialogues and exchanges at all levels. They noted in particular the importance of dialogues at high level and decided to hold the Leaders’ Meeting as frequently as possible. They recognised the importance of enhancing political and security dialogues and exchanges.

Fostering people – to – people and cultural exchanges

3. They decided to further promote direct people-to-people contacts not only at the level of policy makers but also among other sectors, in particular among the youth and intellectuals through exchange programmes. They recognised the importance of preserving and developing their respective rich traditions and cultures and promoting deeper mutual understanding through cultural exchange and cooperation. In this regard, they welcomed the objectives of and the progress made by the Multinational Cultural Mission and looked forward to the proposals to be made by the Mission.

Promoting regional peace and stability

4. They recognised the importance of close cooperation to promote regional peace and stability. In this context, they had an exchange of views and perspectives on security related issues, including on existing security cooperation and arrangements. They also confirmed their intention to intensify cooperation at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Japan recognized the importance which ASEAN attached to the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN). Japan welcomed the entry into force of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty which represented an important effort of ASEAN towards strengthening security in the region.

Enhancing economic cooperation

5. They recognised the increasing interdependence between ASEAN and Japan in the light of the expansion of trade and investment and the intensification of industrial cooperation. They thus decided to further consolidate their close economic relations with a view to sustaining the development and shared prosperity of the region.

6. Japan expressed confidence that ASEAN, having strong economic fundamentals, would continue to remain a dynamic region of sustained economic growth in spite of current economic difficulties, thus providing great opportunities for strengthening economic cooperation between ASEAN and Japan. ASEAN member states and Japan underlined the importance of economic restructuring to further enhance the competitiveness of their respective economies.

7. They noted that the Finance Ministers of ASEAN and Japan at the recent meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 2 December 1997 discussed national efforts and regional and international cooperation to address the present financial situation in the region. They endorsed the Finance Ministers’ agreement on the rapid implementation of the Manila Framework as a constructive step towards promoting financial stability in the region. They noted that Japan would convene a meeting of Asian Finance and Central Bank Deputies in early 1998 to carry forward the initiatives under the Manila Framework and work closely with the IMF, World Bank, ADB and international regulatory bodies. The ASEAN member states noted with appreciation Japan’s contribution to the recent financing packages in the region and both sides reaffirmed the importance of enhanced cooperation on economic and financial issues between the Finance Ministers of ASEAN and Japan.

8. The ASEAN member states expressed appreciation to the useful and effective assistance extended by Japan. Japan reiterated its policy to continue to support the efforts of ASEAN countries through its Official Development Assistance and other programmes, and to promote private sector’s initiatives. They would accord priority in their cooperation to :

*addressing market access issues and structural change in the industrial sector to promote balanced growth of ASEAN-Japan trade;

* facilitating transfer of technology, including sophisticated and environmental friendly technology, to ASEAN;

* enhancing ASEAN’s competitiveness through, inter alia;

      – development of hard and soft infrastructure;

      – strengthening of supporting industries;

      – modernization of small and medium sized enterprises and other industrial cooperation;

     – human resource development. In this context, Japan offered a programme for 20,000 ASEAN people over a period of five years for comprehensive human resource development, and

     – improvement of environmental management and protection;

* promoting macro-economic and financial stability in the region;

* alleviating economic disparities and poverty within ASEAN and facilitating the integration of new ASEAN member states into the mainstream of ASEAN economic development and globalisation;

* promoting and supporting regional and sub-regional programmes, particularly in the Greater Mekong Sub-region; and

* establishing appropriate mechanisms within or in close cooperation with the ASEAN-Japan Forum, such as the Japan-ASEAN Roundtable on Development to exchange views and information concerning issues relating to ASEAN-Japan development cooperation and a new body, under co-chairmanship at ministerial level, within the existing AEM-MITI Japan consultations by restructuring the CLM-WG for enhanced industrial cooperation, improvement of ASEAN’s competitiveness and development cooperation assignee to the new member countries.

9. They shared the view that steady and full implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and ASEAN Industrial Cooperation (AICO) Scheme would strengthen economic linkage among ASEAN economies and promote their competitiveness and attractiveness as an investment and production base.

10. Recognising that a strengthened multilateral free trade system is indispensable to future prosperity, they confirmed their readiness to work toward the further liberalisation and facilitation of trade by promoting such activities as those in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), taking into account economic situations of developing countries. In this connection, they decided to promote greater interactions and close relations between their public and private sectors.

Collaborating on international issues

11. In their efforts to contribute to peace, stability and prosperity of the region in particular and the world at large, they resolved to work towards strengthening the functions of the United Nations, in particular the reform of the UN including the UN Security Council, and to promoting international efforts for disarmament and non-proliferation regime. In this connection, they welcomed the progress made by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) and reaffirmed continued support for its activities. They underlined the need for common efforts in addressing the challenges of the next century through joint efforts, inter alia, in the following fields:

* strengthening environmental protection;

* promoting efficient and sustainable use of energy resources;

* improving health and welfare;

* reinforcing measures against international terrorism, illegal trafficking of small fire arms, drugs, and other international organised crimes; and

* enhancing South-South cooperation to share ASEAN’s economic growth experiences with developing countries.

12. Japan welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Vision 2020, reflecting ASEAN’s dynamism and determination to meet the challenges of the coming century.