Jakarta, 9 April 2011

While there is a need for economic recovery for Japan after the recent calamities, what is more immediately important is the human bonding among the people of Japan, said the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan. The sentiment was conveyed by Dr Surin to the Foreign Minister of Japan, H.E. Takeaki Matsumoto, during their bilateral meeting, following the Special ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat here today. The Meeting was attended by ASEAN Foreign Ministers, in light of the recent calamities in Northeast Japan.

“For the last 34 years, ASEAN and Japan’s cooperation has been founded on what the former Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda called in 1977 a ‘heart-to-heart’ relationship,” said Dr Surin.

“It was a crisis, but it was also an opportunity for ASEAN and Japan to show their resolve in standing together for present and future challenges in all areas of cooperation. This happened to be a natural disaster, but there have been occasions in the past when Japan rose triumphantly from economic and political crises – certainly Japan will come through again this time,” added Dr Surin.

Dr Surin went on to say that he has been tasked to report on all Member States’ efforts to work together to support Japan to the 18th and 19th ASEAN Summits this year in Indonesia.

During the meeting, Minister Matsumoto also expressed his appreciation to the ASEAN Secretariat for making today’s Special Ministerial Meeting a success. He also thanked Dr Surin for taking the time to sign the condolence book in the Embassy of Japan in Jakarta a week after the disaster struck and that his following words of encouragement on the recovery of Japan gave consolation to the people of Japan.

Minister Matsumoto said Japan would coordinate closely with the ASEAN Secretariat to enhance its cooperation with ASEAN in disaster management work. He added that Japan was also interested to explore the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum, both of which ASEAN helms, as other platforms to expand its cooperation in disaster management. He also reaffirmed Japan’s commitment and support to ASEAN Connectivity.