February 21, 2017
Message from Ambassador Kazuo Sunaga
The year 2017 is a landmark year for ASEAN as ASEAN commemorates its 50th anniversary. I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations on this occasion.
Over the last 50 years, ASEAN has played a central role in Southeast Asia’s progress by facilitating the region’s integration in the area of political-security and economy, and as a socio-cultural community. ASEAN’s membership has doubled from 5 countries to 10 as ASEAN overcame momentous challenges, including regional conflicts, the end of the Cold War, and the currency crisis. The ASEAN Community was founded at the end of 2015, and ASEAN is now playing a major role not only in deepening regional integration but also in securing regional peace and prosperity.
Japan is ASEAN’s oldest friend. Japan-ASEAN relations began in 1973, only six years after ASEAN was founded. The relationship between the two is now very close thanks to our mutual cooperation throughout the last 44 years.
In the area of political-security, Japan has consistently respected ASEAN centrality and unity. Japan and ASEAN are important partners that share universal values such as the rule of law.
In the economic arena, Japan has supported ASEAN integration, stronger ASEAN connectivity, and efforts toward narrowing the development gaps in the region. Consequently, ASEAN is the second largest trading partner for Japan, and the number of Japanese-affiliated companies in the region increased substantially over the last decade from 5,994 (2005) to 9,658 (2015).
In the social and cultural arena, Japan has promoted people-to-people and cultural exchanges with ASEAN. The number of visitors from ASEAN to Japan increased considerably in the past ten years from over 500,000 (2006) to over 2,500,000 (2016), and the number of students from ASEAN countries who are studying in Japan increased by six fold between 2005 and 2015.
ASEAN has started implementing measures based on the “ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together” declaration, which outlines its direction for the next 10 years from 2016 to 2025. Japan will cooperate with ASEAN to realize ASEAN 2025 based on the “Vision” (strengthening Japan-ASEAN cooperation as partners for “Peace and Stability”, “Prosperity”, “Quality of Life” and “Heart-to-Heart Partners”) that was adopted at the ASEAN-Japan commemorative summit meeting in 2013.
Our support includes the Japan-Mekong Cooperation for supporting CLMV countries in narrowing the development gap; the strengthening of ASEAN connectivity through “Quality Infrastructure Investment”; negotiations to conclude EPAs, including RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) to support economic integration in ASEAN; and cooperation in the field of disaster prevention through the AHA Centre (ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management).
A more integrated, stable and prosperous ASEAN is essential for the peace and prosperity of both Japan and the region. Japan will continue to support ASEAN through mutual collaboration. Let’s work together!
Profile of the Ambassador
Ambassador to ASEAN
Date of birth : 11 August 1957
Marital Status: Married; two sons, one daughter
Mar. 1980 Graduated from Hitotsubashi University, Faculty of Law
Apr. 1980 Joined Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA)
Jan. 1997 Senior Assistant, Japan-US Security Treaty Division, North American Affairs Bureau, MOFA
Apr. 1998 Director, Energy Resources Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, MOFA
Jan. 2000 Councillor, Cabinet Secretariat (National Security and Crisis Management)
Jan. 2002 Director, Research and Programming Division, Economic Cooperation Bureau, MOFA
Sep. 2003 Professional Fellow in the School of Public Affairs (SIPA) at Colombia University, New York
Jun. 2004 Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, New York
Sep. 2007 Minister, Embassy of Japan in UAE Jul. 2009 Deputy Director-General,
International Cooperation Bureau, MOFA
Jan. 2010 Deputy Director-General, International Cooperation Bureau and Secretary-General of
the Government of Japan for the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to
the Convention on Biological Diversity, MOFA
Mar. 2011 Director General for International Affairs, Bureau of Defense Policy, Ministry of Defense (MOD)
Apr. 2013 Consul-General, Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta
Mar. 2016 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary,
Mission of Japan to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations