BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF ASEAN, DR SURIN PITSUWAN
Let me draw your attention to something that was said more than 30 years ago. In 1977, the Prime Minister of Japan, Takeo Fukuda told ASEAN Leaders that, “ The peace and prosperity of Southeast Asian nations is a major concern of Japan, itself an Asian nation, and it is from this perspective that we intend to extend co-operation to their various efforts to develop themselves in the spirit of self-reliance as seen in the efforts by ASEAN through personal exchanges, active contribution to nation-building and other means.”
Now fast forward to 2011. More than 30 years later, true to Japan's strong culture of keeping to their words, Mr Fukuda's promise has been delivered. Over the years, the cooperation between ASEAN and Japan has broadened and deepened, covering political and security, economic and financial, and social and cultural areas. Many cooperation activities were materialised through Japan's various generations of leadership and administration – and Japan is not stopping.
Last July, the promise was further reinforced when Japan appointed its Ambassador to ASEAN, Ambassador Takio Yamada, to be based in Jakarta to work closely with the ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat – to continue delivering this three-decade old commitment. This mission was monumental to ASEAN – Ambassador Yamada became the first dedicated Ambassador to ASEAN who is based in Jakarta, an appointment which leaves no space for doubt over Japan's commitment to ASEAN.
ASEAN and Japan have a symbiotic economic relationship. Today, Japan is an important trading partner and source of investment to ASEAN. In trade, the total transactions between ASEAN and Japan amounted to US$160.9 billion in 2009, and Japan also held 10.5 per cent of total ASEAN trade in 2009. ASEAN overtook the United States of America as Japan's second largest trading partner, with 14 per cent share of Japan's total trade in 2009. Meanwhile, foreign investment flows from Japan to ASEAN increased by nearly 14 per cent from US$4.6 billion in 2008 to US$5.9 billion in 2009, and Japan also held 13.4 per cent of total inward investment to ASEAN in 2009.
In 1977, Mr. Fukuda emphasized the concept of a “heart-to-heart” relationship. Japan's youth exchange programme called the “Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths” (JENESYS), first implemented in 2007, has sent approximately 26,993 youth to Japan and 5,374 youth from Japan (as of September last year). The Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) has also seen many programmes implemented, including a few to help ASEAN reach out to the public.
In October last year, at the 13th ASEAN-Japan Summit in Ha Noi, Leaders of ASEAN and Japan agreed to commence the process of reviewing the 2003 Tokyo Declaration for the Dynamic and Enduring ASEAN-Japan Partnership in the New Millennium and its Plan of Action to issue a new declaration and the revised Plan of Action at the 14th ASEAN-Japan Summit, which will be held in November this year in Bali.
I hope Japan has benefitted from our diverse cooperation as much as ASEAN has. I look forward to more meaningful cooperation in the coming years. In the meantime, I hope you will navigate through this website to learn more about our relationship and participate with us, as Japan, our dear friend, assists us on our journey to reach an ASEAN Community by the year 2015.
DR SURIN PITSUWAN