Siem Reap, 5 December 2013 – The ASEAN-Japan Youth Leaders’ Forum with the theme “Roles of Youth in the ASEAN-Japan Relations in the 21st Century was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 30 November – 02 December 2013. The forum brought together 90 youths from ASEAN Member States and Japan as part of the commemorative activities of the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

The chosen theme reflects the crucial and positive roles of youth in society and such increasingly vital role is recognized and has been promoted at national, regional and global levels.

In his opening speech, H.E. Im Koch , Secretary of State of Ministry of Education, Youths and Sports of Cambodia, emphasized that the Forum not only provides opportunity for the youths, the future leaders of ASEAN and Japan, to share views on or discuss issues related to ASEAN-Japan relations, but also to promote mutual understanding and trust, as well as create a durable networking among them, especially through the use of ICT in this 21’t century.

At the forum, ASEAN and Japan youths discussed achievements, challenges, and future direction under three main areas namely: (1) political and security cooperation; (2) economic cooperation; (3) socio-cultural cooperation in 40 years of the ASEAN-Japan relations and the roles of the youth in deepening ASEAN-Japan Strategic Partnership. The forum did come up with a significant recommendation regarding those three areas of cooperation and their roles in enriching the ASEAN-Japan Relations, which will be submitted to the forthcoming ASEAN Japan Commemorative Summit on 13-15 December 2013 for consideration.

At the closing ceremony, H.E. Pou Sothirak, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, stressed that “ASEAN and Japan are fully aware of the future’s challenges and uncertainties that emerge in this complex international system. Our Leaders recognise the aspiration of our youths who are yearning for extraordinary growth, development and democratic reforms that can transform our region into a conflict-free area with peace, stability and prosperity. We therefore endeavour to deepen further our cooperation, strengthen our connection, and stand ready to do everything we can to prevent this region from falling into an environment of fear and mistrust which can destabilize the decades of peace and progress.”

The closing ceremony was attended by Mr. Yoshihiro Higuchi, Minister of Embassy of Japan to the Kingdom of Cambodia. He underlined that the contribution of the youths really add value to ASEAN-Japan Strategic Partnership and encouraged ASEAN-Japan youths to continue this endeavour and cooperation for bright future of ASEAN and Japan.

The ASEAN-Japan Youth Leaders’ Forum was hosted and organized by the Government of Cambodia under the sponsorship of the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).