​HIROSHIMA – 18 March 2017 – The first ASEAN University Student Council Union Conference that aimed to enhance mutual understanding among the youth to deepen friendship and strengthen cooperation between ASEAN and Japan concluded today.

At the week-long conference themed “Peace and Youth Leadership,” 143 youth leaders and 22 youth advisers from ASEAN Member States and Japan formulated action plans to connect student council unions in ASEAN through regular interaction and debates on various issues, developments and processes in ASEAN and beyond.

Through various activities such as group discussions, visits to important peace landmarks in Hiroshima, and expert lectures, the student participants reflected on elements of peace and mutual understanding from the point of view of history as well as current realities and future challenges.  Further, the student participants identified practical solutions how they could serve as leaders of peace in their own contexts including their families, communities, countries, as well as ASEAN.

Ambassador Kazuo Sunaga of Japan to ASEAN and Ambassador Elizabeth Buensuceso, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to ASEAN highlighted the key role that the youth plays in promoting and building peace in ASEAN, Japan and beyond. Ambassador Buensuceso highlighted the priorities of the Philippines as current chairman of ASEAN. She encouraged the youth to adopt the ASEAN priorities in their respective activities.

In his remarks, Deputy Secreteraty-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee encouraged the students to experience and immerse themselves with new cultures in order to appreciate the diversity and thus, foster understanding, tolerance and peace. “The youth of today is the future of tomorrow.  The youth of today is the next generation of ASEAN leaders.,” he added.

The conference has been dedicated as an activity to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN where participants paid tribute to the founding fathers and ideals of ASEAN.

Funded by the Government of Japan through Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths, the conference was part of the “heart-to-heart” partnership between ASEAN and Japan that aims to enhance the connectivity of the peoples between ASEAN and Japan, which further promotes intercultural awareness and mutual understanding.

“During the conference, I learned a lot about friendship, diversity, leadership and that each individual can take part in promoting and building peace. I hope this conference can be sustained so that other student leaders of ASEAN will get the opportunity to learn like I did,” said Razie Zaini, a student leader from Brunei Darussalam.