At the 9th ASEAN-Japan Summit Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur on 13 December 2005, the Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to deepen and broaden ASEAN-Japan strategic partnership. Since then, various projects and measures have been implemented as illustrated in the Executive Report on Progress of Implementation of the ASEAN-Japan Plan of Action. The following are salient points from the Report.
On political and security cooperation, ASEAN and Japan have made vigorous efforts in the areas such as counter-terrorism, transnational crime, maritime security, piracy, non-proliferation and drug control through capacity-building, training and information exchange. Japan informed ASEAN of its newly established grand-aid scheme for cooperation on counter-terrorism and security enhancement in 2006. In June 2006, Japan hosted the 1st ASEAN-Japan Counter-Terrorism Dialogue in Tokyo.
On economic front, pprogress has been made in implementing the 2002 ASEAN-Japan Joint Declaration on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) and the 2003 Framework for Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEP). Since this effort commenced in April 2005, five rounds of negotiations have been held, with the goal of concluding the negotiations within two years.
On the reform of the ASEAN-Japan Centre, ASEAN and Japan have proceeded with undertaking the reform of the Centre based on the recommendations of the Eminent Persons’ Committee (EPC).
Development cooperation has also substantially progressed in various sectors and areas. The Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), to which Japan has contributed USD70 million, was established in March 2006 to support ASEAN’s effort to establish the ASEAN Community by 2020. Efforts to reduce the development gap in ASEAN have continued under the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), for which Japan has extended assistance to 24 projects – worth over USD 4 million – in the area of human resource development.
On the Mekong Region Development and Human Resource Development Total Plan, cooperation marked a new high with the realization of Japan’s commitment, to extend assistance of USD 1.5 billion to respective projects within three years since December 2003.
In the area of people-to-people exchange, steady progress has been made. Since December 2003, Japan has brought over some 6,500 ASEAN youths, more than half the 10,000 it has pledged to invite by 2008. As part of the effort to promote Asia-Africa cooperation, the “Asia Young Volunteers” program has been initiated with the help of Japan’s contribution of USD 650,000 to the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) in 2006.
As for East Asia cooperation, it has continued to expand in various areas. For instance, two ministerial meetings were held in 2006, namely the 1st region-wide Ministerial Meeting on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, held in Tokyo in June and the Informal Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology held in Malaysia in August. ASEAN agreed to a proposal for a track-two study on a possible Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) comprising ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand. ASEAN, however, re-iterated the need to expeditiously conclude the ASEAN Plus One FTAs as the basis for such expanded regional integration initiative. ASEAN also agreed to Japan’s proposal to establish an Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), and asked Japan to discuss this proposal further with the ASEAN Secretariat.