"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] Contributed Article "Co-creating the future of the Indo-Pacific based on trust" by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio to the Singaporean Newspaper The Straits Times on the Occasion of The Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation

[Date] December 15, 2023
[Source] Cabinet Public Affairs Office, Cabinet Secretariat
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

I would like to extend warm greetings to the people of Singapore. I am Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan. This weekend, I will be hosting the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit marking the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. It is my great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Tokyo from Singapore on this historic occasion.

Japan became a dialogue partner with ASEAN in 1973, ahead of the rest of the world. Since then, Japan has walked alongside ASEAN, including Singapore, on its path of development and integration.

Japan has supported the development of the ASEAN region through development cooperation in various fields. Japan and ASEAN are each other's major trading partners, and Japan is the second largest direct investor in ASEAN after the United States. In recent years, Japanese direct investment in ASEAN has averaged about 2.8 trillion yen annually. Japanese companies have approximately 15,000 business establishments in ASEAN, bringing the vitality of the fast-growing ASEAN region into the Japanese economy and also creating products, services and employment in ASEAN countries, thus contributing to their economic development.

With around 33,000 Japanese nationals living and about 1,100 Japanese enterprises operating in the country, Singapore is an important business hub for Japan. In 2002, we signed the Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (JSEPA) which is the first bilateral economic partnership agreement for Japan. Economic ties between Japan and Singapore are very robust, with foreign direct investment (FDI) stock amounting about 170 billion SGD in Singapore from Japan.

Japan-ASEAN relationships including Japan and Singapore go beyond business. The foundation of Japan-ASEAN relations as true friends is a relationship of mutual trust with "heart-to-heart" connections. It has been nurtured over the years through "people-to-people" exchanges in a wide range of fields. Both the public and private sectors have continued to make concrete efforts in various youth and international student exchanges.

In addition, Japan and ASEAN have reached out to each other and have been "trusted partners" through many challenges such as the 1997 Asian currency crisis, the 2004 Sumatra earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and the COVID-19 pandemic from 2019.

The international community is now at a turning point in history, and the free and open international order based on the rule of law is under serious challenge. We also face complex and compounding challenges such as climate change, inequality, public health crises, digitalization, and AI governance. I look forward to working more closely than ever with the people of ASEAN based on strong "trust" to "co-create" a peaceful and stable world where everyone can live with dignity and also a sustainable and prosperous future.

At the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit, which concludes this memorial year with the leaders of ASEAN countries, I will review the Japan-ASEAN relationship during the past half century and set out a new vision with concrete cooperations for its future.

In particular, Japan would like to propose a comprehensive exchange program to connect and strengthen "heart to heart" partnerships for the next generation, new initiatives to co-create solutions to the challenges shared by our economies and societies, efforts to address climate change such as further promotion of the Asian Zero Emission Community initiative, and industrial cooperation. I would like to make this historic Commemorative Summit a "Golden Opportunity" to carry our "Golden Friendship" into the next generation.

Being a regional hub, Singapore is a reliable partner for Japan as we share the importance of the free and open international order based on the rule of law. Japan and Singapore have been deepening the bilateral cooperation in the areas of economic security such as supply chain resilience and cyber security. We are also seeing steady progress of our cooperation in economic areas related to digital transformation, climate change and energy. Furthermore, in the area of people-to-people exchange that is an important basis for the friendship between the two countries, the number of Singaporean visitors to Japan is recovering strongly, even surpassing the pre-pandemic level. I expect people-to-people exchange between us will be further revitalized. Sharing many mutual interests, the relationship between Japan and Singapore has large potential for further development. Japan would like to widen the scope of cooperation with Singapore.

For three years from next summer, Singapore will serve as the ASEAN country coordinator for Japan. Based on the outcomes of the Commemorative Summit this weekend, Japan will work closely together with Singapore toward opening up the new era of the ASEAN-Japan relationship.