"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 Malaysian National News Agency Bernama 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 Malaysia. I am KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan. Last month, I visited Malaysia for the first time since taking office as the prime minister of Japan. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the warm hospitality extended to me by the people of Malaysia.

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 Dato' Seri Anwar to Tokyo from Malaysia on this historical 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 Malaysia, on its path of development and integration. It was Malaysia that hosted the first Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting was held in 1997. I would like to express my sincere respect to Malaysia for its longstanding contribution to the development of ASEAN, as well as deepening cooperation between Japan and ASEAN.

So far, Japan has supported the development of the ASEAN countries 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 to 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 ASEAN's economic development. Malaysia is an important hub for Japan's manufacturing industry, especially the electrical and electronics sector. In fact, Japan's cumulative investment in Malaysia has reached 80 billion ringgit. The bilateral economic relations between Japan and Malaysia have become even closer in recent years as Japanese and Malaysian companies work together on projects related to hydrogen and ammonia in the energy sector.

Japan-ASEAN relationships, including Japan-Malaysia relations, 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. For instance, NIHONGO Partners have been dispatched to over 100 Malaysian secondary schools which teach the Japanese language as assistants to Japanese language teachers. They are the very "heart-to-heart" partners that play an important role across Malaysia to deepen the bilateral ties.

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. Japan will never forget the fact that Malaysia promptly offered LNG to the affected areas right after the Great East Japan Earthquake when Japan suffered from severe LNG shortage.

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.

I visited Malaysia in November this year, and now Prime Minister Anwar is visiting Japan. The relationship between Japan and Malaysia is dynamically developing through such mutual visits.

During this time together with Prime Minister Anwar, I would like to further deepen bilateral collaboration and cooperate in areas such as climate change and energy including the Asia Zero Emissions Community initiative, digital, people-to-people exchanges, as well as response to regional and global issues.