The Thirteenth Meeting of the Japan-ASEAN Forum was held in Tokyo, Japan on 16-17 February 1993.
Delegates, Adoption of Agenda and Business Arrangements
Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs led the Japanese delegation. Mr. Peter Chan Jer Hing, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, representing the country coordinator of the ASEAN-Japan Dialogue, led the ASEAN delegation.
Mr. Kunihiko Saito, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan, served as the Japanese co-chairman during the discussion on regional political and security issues, and Mr. Matsuura did so for the other topics. Mr. Chan served as the co-chairman from the ASEAN side.
Review of Japan-ASEAN Relations
In his opening speech reviewing Japan-ASEAN relations, Mr. Matsuura indicated that this Forum, which convened Vice-Minister-level diplomats from both sides and included political and security issues on the agenda for the first time, marked a point of departure from previous Forum Meetings in its organization and structure. He stated that this attested to the further deepening of Japan-ASEAN relations.
He expressed the Japanese desire to conduct policy-oriented dialogue at this Forum, bearing fully in mind the four areas of future Japan-ASEAN cooperation given by Prime Minister Miyazawa in his Bangkok policy speech last month.
In his return speech, Mr. Chan expressed appreciation on behalf of ASEAN for the recent visit of Prime Minister Miyazawa to ASEAN countries to strengthen cooperation between ASEAN and Japan. In this context he added that ASEAN welcomed the significant proposals for political and economic cooperation between ASEAN and Japan that resulted from these visits. He noted that the growing linkages between ASEAN and Japan were a reflection of the maturity of the relationship and an expression of the interdependence of the two regions.
He emphasized the need for Japan and ASEAN to continue to strengthen both formal and inform relations for mutual benefit.
Mr. Chan stated that the inclusion of region political and security issues on the agenda is most timely, and that ASEAN intends to continue it contribution for the peace and stability of the region with Japan and other friendly countries.
The discussions which followed the speeches we conducted from a broad and elevated point of view and covered a wide range of topics of mutual interest. I addition to the areas touched on in the speeches, the topics included international economic issues, bilateral economic issues, and development and culture cooperation, as well as regional political and security issues and the safety of navigation in the Straits of Malacca.
Exchange of Views on Economic Issues
With regard to international economic issues, Japan and ASEAN agreed on the utmost importance of early and successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round, and on their intention to work for the maintenance of a multilateral and open trading system which is the source of the dynamic economic development of the Asia-Pacific region. In this regard, both sides emphasized the continued importance of APEC, particularly with the establishment of the APEC Secretariat.
ASEAN explained that one of the primary purposes of AFTA was to create an incentive for investment to ASEAN from outside countries, and urged the Japanese government to take active interest in AFTA. Japan reiterated its welcome on ASEAN’s initiative concerning AFTA. In this regard, Japan announced plans to hold an “AFTA Seminar” in Tokyo around late May with a view to promoting understanding on AFTA among Japanese private companies and encouraging their investment in ASEAN countries.
ASEAN and Japan also reviewed the latest developments in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Single European Market (SEM). Both sides were of the view that NAFTA and the SEM should be GATT-consistent and not become exclusive trade blocs, detrimental to the interest of third countries.
Bilateral Economic Issues
Japan and ASEAN discussed a number of specific matters in the area of bilateral economic relations and cooperation, covering ASEAN’s market access requests, including Japan’s GSP for ASEAN-processed products, Foreign Access Zones (FAZs), investment cooperation, commodities and financial cooperation.
Exchange of Views on Regional Political and Security Issues
The discussion on regional political and security issues dealt with : (1) security issues and security dialogues in the Asia-Pacific region; (2) the situation in East Asia; (3) Cambodia; (4) Japan’s role in the region.
On the first sub-topic, Japan and ASEAN generally agreed in their assessment of the regional situation. They also concurred on the usefulness of political and security dialogues through existing fora in order to improve the understanding among the participants of regional trends and problems. ASEAN proposed convening a Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences (PMC). Japan welcomed the ASEAN proposal.
With regard to the South China Sea, Japan expressed its support for the ASEAN Declaration of the South China Sea.
Japan and ASEAN expressed their strong commitment to the Cambodian Peace Process implemented on the basis of the Paris Agreements. Both sides stressed the need for all Cambodians to exercise self restraint in order to ensure a neutral political environment, and agreed that every effort be made so that free and fair elections could be conducted in May. Both sides paid high tribute to the central role played by HRH Prince Norodom Sihanouk in the peace process and agreed to continue full support to UNTAC headed by Mr. Yasushi Akashi. Japan explained the proposal made by Prime Minister Miyazawa to establish a “Forum for Comprehensive Development of Indochina”. ASEAN welcomed the Japanese initiative.
Japan expressed its intention to enhance its contribution on regional security. Japan repeated its resolve to never become a military power again. ASEAN expressed its appreciation for the Japanese explanation on its contribution to regional security.
Japan-ASEAN Cultural Cooperation
ASEAN expressed its wish to obtain Japan’s continued support for projects in the field of culture.
Japan agreed with ASEAN on the importance of cultural exchange as an important component of Japan-ASEAN cooperation and its wish to introduce the cultures of ASEAN to Japan. Japan announced that the High-level International Conference for Safeguarding and Development of the Historical Area of Angkor will be held in Tokyo in autumn this year.
Safety of Navigation in the Straits of Malacca
ASEAN emphasized the need to address the issue of safety of navigation in the Straits of Malacca in a comprehensive manner, including the need to conduct a second study of the Straits of Malacca. Japan concurred on the importance of this safety, and introduced the forms of contribution it has been making for this goal. ASEAN informed Japan of the proposal to convene an international conference to discuss the safety of navigation and control of pollution in the Straits of Malacca.
Report of the ASEAN-Japan Economic Council
In the report of the ASEAN-Japan Economic Council, Mr. Shinroku Morohashi, Vice Chairman of the Japan Section of AJEC, and Mr. Tan Eng Joo, Chairman of the ASEAN Section, presented their respective reports to the Forum. Mr. Yutaka Nomura, Secretary General of ASEAN Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism also made a presentation on the Centre’s various activities.
In his paper, Mr. Morohashi stressed the importance of fostering ASEAN supporting industries and promoting investment by Japanese small-and medium-size industries. Mr. Tan evaluated economic relations between Japan and also emphasized that the private sector should be invited to participate in all discussions on bilateral and international economic matters at the Forum. Japan stated that it would consider, in consultation with ASEAN countries, an appropriate formula for greater participation of the private sector in future Forum meetings. The Meeting greed to study the substantive issues raised by the private sector of both sides.
The delegations from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand expressed their appreciation for the Government of Japan in hosting the Thirteenth Meeting of the ASEAN-Japan Forum and for the hospitality extended to them.
The Fourteenth Meeting will be held in ASEAN at a date to be mutually agreed upon.