H.E. Mr. Masahiko Koumura
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan,
H.E. Mr. Win Aung
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar,
Distinguished Participant from ASEAN countries and Japan
1. First of all, on behalf of our ASEAN colleagues and in my own name, I would like. to extend my warm welcome to Your Excellency and other members of the Delegation of Japan to this annual PMC between ASEAN and Japan. This is the second year that Vietnam has the responsibility of co-ordinator of ASEAN’s relations with Japan, a very important partner of ASEAN. I am glad to co-chair our Meeting with Your Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan. It is my belief that this Meeting would help further promote the traditional close relationship between the two sides.
2. Since our last Meeting, we have witnessed important progress in the cooperative relationship between ASEAN and Japan, the culmination of which was the ASEAN-Japan Summit Meeting on the occasion of the 6th ASEAN Summit held in Hanoi last December. The success of the ASEAN-Japan Summit Meeting and the outcomes of the 6th ASEAN Summit, the 9+3 Summit and other 9+1 Summits as well as the admission of Cambodia into ASEAN to fulfil the vision of ASEAN-10 demonstrated ASEAN’s will and unity to hasten economic recovery, achieve sustained and equitable development and strive for regional peace and stability. This is also a vivid expression of the strong support that Japan and other dialogue partners like China and the Republic of Korea have given to ASEAN’s efforts. Today’s Meeting provides us with an opportunity to promote the implementation of the decisions made by the Leaders of ASEAN and Japan at their Summit.
3. For the Association, the Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA) will be accorded high priority in the cooperation among ASEAN countries and between ASEAN countries and the outside in the next 6 years. At the PMC 10+10, we had the opportunity to give you an introduction to the substance and plan for the implementation of the HPA. At this Meeting, in addition to the issues listed in the Agenda, we may as well discuss the substance of and directions for ASEAN-Japan cooperation in implementing the HPA and the Vision 2020. By the way, I would like to say that it is gratifying to note the efforts made by both ASEAN and Japan in holding the ASEAN-Japan Consultative Conference on the Hanoi Plan of Action and Vision 2020, the details of which we will presently examine and adopt.
4. ASEAN appreciates the active assistance and cooperation by Japan in helping the former cope with the challenges posed by the regional economic and financial crisis and achieve economic recovery. Japan’s large-scale assistance programmes on both bilateral and multilateral basis such as the Assistance Measures for Asia (US$ 44 billion) through IMF, the Miyazawa Initiative (US$ 30 billion), the Asian Currency Crisis Support Facility (US$ 3 billion) through the ADB and the Special Yen Loan Facility (Y 600 billion) are very important and practical measures which have great significance to regional countries. This is also a vivid embodiment of Japan’s role as the “leading goose” in East Asia’s economic recovery. ASEAN also appreciates Japan”s commitment to support the ASEAN Programme on the Social Safety Net in order to mitigate the social impact of the crisis and would like to propose that an ASEAN-Japan seminar be held early to discuss directions for future cooperation in this area with the focus on efforts to alleviate poverty, create employment and promote agricultural and rural development at the national and regional levels.
On this occasion, I wish to express my sincere thanks for the decision by the Japanese Government to include our country in the list countries eligible for the Miyazawa Initiative, helping us to cope with the serious impact of the regional economic and financial crisis.
5. Great importance has always been attached to development cooperation in ASEAN-Japan cooperative relationship. In recent past, many additional big projects have been implemented such as cooperation in developing ASEAN’s regional transport in the 21st century, assisting ASEAN’s small- and medium-sized enterprises, carrying out studies aimed at increasing ASEAN-Japan multinational cultural exchanges. The Rules of Procedure of the Japan-ASEAN Exchange Project (JAEP) and the Japan-ASEAN Cooperation Promotion programme (JACPP) are being adjusted in order to improve the effectiveness of the management of development projects. Given the decline in development assistance from ASEAN’s dialogue partners, Japan’s contribution of US$ 20 million to the ASEAN Foundation has created an important additional budgetary resource for ASEAN’s development programmes and projects.
6. Last year, Japan funded more than US$ one million for JAEP and JACPP. In order to further promote development cooperation projects, we wish to propose that Japan consider increasing funding to these two programmes, at least maintaining its previous level of funding. In order to further improve the effectiveness of our cooperation and in the context of ASEAN’s improvement in the dialogue mechanism, we are of the view that general examination and appraisal should be carried out on cooperation programmes and projects, and mechanisms in ASEAN-Japan dialogue relationship so as to focus in development objectives, improve their efficiency and linkages between mechanisms and the co-ordination of the ASEAN Secretariat in the implementation process.
7. ASEAN welcomes Japan’s different forms of participation, including that of the private sector, in the programmes for ASEAN’s subregional development, including cooperation in the development of the interstate areas along the East-West corridor of the Mekong Basin (WEC). By the way, I wish to inform you that the recent SEOM Meeting in Da Nang has agreed to ask the Japanese MITI to consider the establishment of a WEC development working group under AMEICC. The working group will prepare a comprehensive master plan for the development of the WEC, work out special incentives to attract investment into poor areas of ASEAN as well as special priority to hasten the development of those less-developed interstate areas. We wish to receive Japan’s active support in this matter.
8. As a country in the Asia-Pacific, Japan does not only have an important role and voice in the development and prosperity of the region but also can contribute, in a positive way, to the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific, including Southeast Asia, wherein makes contribution to the cause of peace and development in the world.
9. With those words, I wish to declare open the PMC Meeting 10+1 with Japan and may I have the honour to invite H.E. Mr. Masahiko Koumura, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan to take the floor.