1. The Sixteenth Meeting of the ASEAN – Japan Forum was held in Hanoi on 25-26 June 1998.
2. The Forum was attended by H.E. Dato Paduka Haji Suyoi Osman, Permanent Secretary II, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brunei Darussalam; H. E. Hadi Wayarabi, Director of Asia and Pacific Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia; H.E. Phongsavath Boupha, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Laos; H.E. Ambassador Syeed Sultan Seni Pakir, Director-General of ASEAN Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia; H.E. Nyunt Maung Shein, Director-General of Political Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myanmar; H.E. Lauro L. Baja, Jr., Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines; H.E. BG (Ret’d) Tan Chin Tiong, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore; H.E. Sawanit Kongsiri, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand; H.E. Nguyen Tam Chien, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam; H.E. Koichi Haraguchi, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and their respective delegations. H.E. Rodolfo Severino Jr., the Secretary General of ASEAN was also present. H.E. Takashi Onda, Secretary General of the ASEAN Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism, attended as observer during the discussion on economic matters.
3. The Forum was co-chaired by H.E. Nguyen Tam Chien, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, and H.E. Koichi Haraguchi, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
4. The Meeting exchanged views on a wide range of issues of common interest, in particular the regional economic and financial situation, and follow-up matters arising from the Meeting of the Heads of State and Government of ASEAN and Japan in Kuala Lumpur on 16 December 1997. The Meeting focused on new concrete ideas to further improve mechanisms and cooperation schemes for strengthening the ASEAN- Japan relations towards the 21st century.
Exchange of Views on Regional Economic and Financial Situation
5. The two sides sides exchanged views on measures to address the current difficulties affecting their economies. They considered that mitigating the impacts of these difficulties had become a crucial question for all parties concemed. They agreed that international financial institutions, in particular the IMF, continue to play an important role in helping to restore financial and economic stability in the region. They agreed on the importance of undertaking necessary economic and financial reforms, both at national and international levels, including measures to strengthen market confidence. They recognized the need to alleviate the negative impact on the socially and economically vulnerable segments of the population. In this connection, they agreed that the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have a significant role to play. They also agreed that the efficient use of Official Development Assistance (ODA) would be important in addressing the socioeconomic difficulties.
6. ASEAN welcomed the measures taken by Japan to address the Asian economic difficulties and expressed its expectation that Japan will continue to play a leadership role in the restoration of the Asian economies. Japan reaffirmed its commitment to support ASEAN countries for their economic recovery and to expedite the implementation of Japan’s economic support measures. Noting that recovery of its own economy is also important for the recovery of Asian economies, Japan expressed its determination to continue to do its utmost to strengthen its financial system and to put its economy back on the path of self-sustained and domestic-demand-led growth.
7. They agreed that, with the prevailing trend of economic interdependence, it is in the interests of all parties concemed to support and facilitate an early and strong economic recovery in ASEAN member countries. ASEAN stressed the importance of undertaking economic reforms, accelerating intra-ASEAN economic integration, trade and investment liberalization through AFTA, AICO and AIA, and cooperating with the other parties in international and inter-regional fora towards this end. Japan welcomed these efforts and reiterated its readiness to support ASEAN in creating favorable condition for increased foreign direct investment and trade in ASEAN.
8. Japan reiterated its 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 – Japan Cooperation towards the 21st Century
9. The Meeting noted with satisfaction the new developments of the ASEAN – Japan cooperation since the last ASEAN-Japan Forum in Tokyo. They agreed that the ASEAN – Japan Summit, held in Kuala Lumpur last December, which issued the Joint Statement, has provided fresh momentum and opportunities for intensifying the ASEAN – Japan partnership into the 21st century. The effective implementation of the Leaders’ initiatives would significantly contribute to the strengthening of ASEAN-Japan dialogue relations.
10. While reaffirming the importance of fostering dialogue and exchange at every level between ASEAN and Japan in order to build a strong partnership, both sides agreed to closely cooperate with each other to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the process.
11. Both sides welcomed the progress of cooperative measures proposed by Prime Minister Hashimoto such as ASEAN – Japan joint efforts to address the economic difficulties of Asia, ASEAN-Japan Round Table on Development, Japan-ASEAN Program for Comprehensive Human Resources Development, South-South development cooperation, Multinational Cultural Mission, ASEAN-Japan Intellectual Symposium and Japan-ASEAN Counter-terrorism Conference. They agreed to further promote partnership through active follow up of each cooperative measure proposed in the initiatives.
12. Japan paid serious attention to ASEAN’s expectation that Japan continues to promote trade and investment in the region by stimulating its domestic demand, facilitating greater market access for ASEAN products as well as encouraging its investors to take opportunities to be presented in AFTA, AICO and AIA for greater industrial linkages. In this regard, both sides appreciated promotion activities on trade, investment and tourism implemented by the ASEAN Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism; and ASEAN expected that Japan would provide continued support to the APC, a unique organization existing between Japan and ASEAN.
13. Both sides agreed that, in the context of an expanded ASEAN, Japan’s continued development assistance and comprehensive cooperation would play an important role in minimizing the economic gaps among ASEAN members. Japan reiterated its commitment to promote coherent and comprehensive programs of bilateral and regional cooperation and technical assistance to ASEAN new member countries to facilitate and strengthen their integration into the mainstream of ASEAN economic development and globalisation. ASEAN expressed its appreciation for Japan’s active participation in ASEAN development efforts in the Mekong Basin and called for a greater contribution of Japan to the Mekong development programs.
14. ASEAN welcomed Japan’s contribution to the ASEAN Foundation in the form of the “Solidarity Fund”.
15. Both sides agreed on the importance of promoting the South-South cooperation. Japan indicated that the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development (UCAD II) would represent a step in that direction. They concurred that, to ensure the effectiveness of such cooperation, it is appropriate to start a step-by-step and selective approach, taking into account ASEAN’s capabilities and priorities.
16. Both sides welcomed the recommendations contained in the final report of the ASEAN-Japan Multinational Cultural Mission and agreed to make efforts for their realization.
Exchange of Views on Regional and International Issues
17. Both sides recognized the importance of strengthening dialogue and exchange in the fields of regional political and security cooperation such as in the ASEAN Regional Forum process and ASEAN’s efforts in the promotion of the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) and the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (SEANWFZ). ASEAN welcomed Japan’s efforts to cooperate actively with ASEAN in order to make positive and constructive contribution to regional peace and stability. Both sides confirmed their commitment to assist Cambodia in the holding of free, fair and credible elections in Cambodia.