Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasised the importance of Japan in maintaining East Asia’s position as the centre of global growth at an international forum on 24th May, in Tokyo.

Speaking at the annual “Future of Asia” conference attended by Asian political and business leaders, Dr. Surin said, “Today, you will see a lot of changes in the region because it is a centre of gravity now. The challenge for us in East Asia is how to handle our differences and make sure that our relations do not affect our growth or the confidence in our region. “It is in the interest of Japan, and it is expected of Japan, to be in the centre of the problems and challenges that affect East Asia,” he further said.

Dr. Surin urged Japan to ‘regain confidence’ saying, “From the natural disasters, from the changes in the region — that may make you believe that you are no longer the leader. But look at your contribution to the region: first-class technology and science, first-class management, education, discipline — all of these are the ingredients needed for the confident Japan that East Asia needs,” he said. The two-day conference was co-hosted by Nikkei Inc. and the Japan Centre for Economic Research Agencies.