"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 Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre on the Occasion of The Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation

[Date] December 16, 2023
[Source] Cabinet Public Affairs Office, Cabinet Secretariat
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]

I would like to extend warm greetings to the people of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. I am KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan.

This year, Japan and Viet Nam are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Over the past year, more than 500 commemorative events have been held in both countries. It works out to at least one event held in either Japan or Viet Nam to celebrate the 50th anniversary, which reminds us of the depth of the emotional ties between the peoples of the two countries. Many of you may have participated in the Japan Festivals held throughout Viet Nam. I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Viet Nam for their efforts to promote friendly relations between our two countries through their many events.

From December 16th, I will host the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, and welcome Prime Minister Chinh of Viet Nam and other leaders of ASEAN countries to Tokyo.

Japan initiated dialogue with ASEAN in 1973, ahead of the rest of the world. Since then, Japan has walked alongside Viet Nam and other ASEAN countries on its path of development and integration for a half century. Japan has supported the development of the ASEAN region including Viet Nam 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.

The relationship between Japan and ASEAN, including Viet Nam, 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 be engaged in various exchange initiatives, including the JENESYS youth exchange program. Japan has hosted some 40,000 government-sponsored international students from the ASEAN countries to date. In addition, JICA has sent JICA Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and NIHONGO (Japanese-language) partners under the "WA Project". Many other exchange programs have been implemented by the private sector over the years.

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 conclusion of the 50th Year of ASEAN-JAPAN Friendship and Cooperation, I would like to summarize the past half century of ASEAN-Japan relations, and to set out a new vision and concrete cooperation for the future at the Commemorative Summit that will welcome the leaders of ASEAN countries.

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.

Viet Nam is an important partner for Japan in realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. During their visit of President Thuong and his spouse Madam Tam to Japan in November, two countries upgraded the bilateral relationship to a "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in Asia and the World”. Under this new partnership, I would like to hold concrete discussions with Prime Minister Chinh to further strategically develop Japan-Viet Nam relations in the future, and to shape a cooperation policy for the next 50 years.