"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Speech by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the ASEAN-Japan Investment-Business Alliance Seminar (AJBIS)

[Date] December 10, 2003
[Source] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

Since ASEAN was established in 1967, ties of friendship and cooperation between Japan and ASEAN have brought stability and prosperity to East Asia. The ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit which begins tomorrow will be an occasion to mark this special relationship in history. For the first time in ASEAN history, all ASEAN leaders will meet outside of the ASEAN region with the presence of a non-ASEAN leader. I will be joining ASEAN leaders in projecting a new vision that will provide a foundation for Japan-ASEAN relations in the 21st century.

There have already been developments in economic interdependence between Japan and ASEAN. For example, Japanese auto makers operate multiple automobile manufacturing sites in the ASEAN region, and procure such parts as engine components from Thailand, air-conditioning components from Malaysia, or door lock components from Indonesia before finally assembling these parts together with Japanese electronic components in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. These automobiles are then exported to countries beyond the ASEAN region to a wider global market. Such practices in which Japan and ASEAN countries share tasks in their respective realms of expertise in the process of assembling a car epitomizes the growing unity within the region.

Last year, Japan and Singapore concluded an Economic Partnership Agreement to abolished customs and expand trade. As a result, exports of plastic products from Singapore to Japan grew by more than 30%, while exports of Japanese beer grew twofold. It is said that one can now enjoy delicious Japanese beers in Singapore at a price less expensive than anywhere else in the world.

If similar bilateral Economic Partnership Agreements are concluded between Japan and such ASEAN countries starting with Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, with the development of a comprehensive economic partnership between Japan and the whole of ASEAN, Japan and ASEAN will emerge as a major economic zone with 650 million inhabitants, and a combined GDP of 5 trillion dollars, making it an extremely attractive market and production base.

ASEAN countries have welcomed Japanese companies, while Japanese companies have also endeavored to foster a relationship of cooperation with the local community. In Thailand, Japanese manufacturing companies have created more than 200 thousand jobs, as well as contributing to strengthening the competitiveness of Thailand companies. I hear that Japanese companies are responsible for coordinating the Christmas decoration along the Orchard Street, or the main thoroughfare, in Singapore.

I have also heard that while Japanese companies in ASEAN countries have welcomed investment promotion policies taken by ASEAN governments, they are also in need of employees with managerial skills and technicians. Japan will continue to assist ASEAN countries in their efforts to improve conditions to promote investment by formulating various schemes and enhancing skills of the workforce through technical and financial assistance. We would also welcome any efforts by ASEAN countries in improving their environment for investment.

Japan has set a target to double the stock of foreign direct investment within 5 years. Rather than being a threat, foreign direct investment has the benefit of stimulating the economy by introducing new technology, innovative managerial skills, and creating new jobs.

Economies are dynamic in nature, and there will be some occasions in which we will face great uncertainty and crises. The crucial point, however, is whether we have the wisdom and courage to overcome such crises. In this regard, I take pride in the fact that Japanese companies remained in their host countries and cooperated with local companies to overcome the Asian currency crisis of 1997.

The Japanese government has also made concerted efforts with the ASEAN countries to establish a financial system in order to ensure the flow of capital to companies that are necessary for industrial growth and preventing another currency crisis. Such concrete measures as developing regional bond markets and promoting Asian currencies denominated bonds will be announced at the coming Commemorative Summit.

Japan and ASEAN countries must also endeavor to rectify economic disparities that still remain in the East Asia region. Japan and ASEAN should support each other for a balanced development of the entire Asian region, and the eradication of poverty, so that all nationals live with expectations for a better tomorrow. Japan continues to support efforts to rectify economic disparities in the ASEAN region through such initiatives as the Mekong Region Development, and the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Political stability is also indispensable for economic development. Securing regional peace, preventing conflicts, and establishing political foundations that will provide stability for the livelihood of the peoples of ASEAN, are all prerequisites for the region to enjoy further economic growth. Political stability and security of social infrastructure are necessary for economic development, and Japan will cooperate with ASEAN in taking measures to respond to new challenges, including terrorism.

In this regard, I am apprehensive about the rise of piracy in the Asia region. Piracy in South East Asia and South West Asia accounts for roughly 60% percent of piracy worldwide, and poses a serious threat to maritime traffic safety for Japan and countries in the region. At the Commemorative Summit, I will propose strengthening cooperation between coast guards or competent authorities so that piracy will not hinder economic transactions in the region.

In respect of cultural exchanges, there has been progress which has enabled us to relate to ASEAN in daily life. It is no longer difficult to find Thai restaurants, while new Vietnamese stores are opening and Traja coffee is supplied by Japanese supermarkets. ASEAN is now a truly familiar name in Japan.

Japan and ASEAN enjoy a strong relationship. I call for Japan and ASEAN to renew their determination to be a pillar of stability and prosperity for the entire region. As a "sincere partner", I will promote cooperation with ASEAN under the spirit of "act together and advance together" so that Japan and ASEAN will continue to be the driving force in providing stability and extending prosperity in the Asian region.

Thank you.