Press Statement by H.E. Mr. Kimihiro Ishikane,
On the occasion of presenting the letter of credential to Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, I would like to say a few words. I am honoured to assume the post of the Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN. This region has been becoming more and more significant for Japan. I feel a great responsibility for this critical duty.
For the last two years, I was one of the Japanese government officials in charge of Japan-ASEAN relations. What I felt during these days at the foremost line of Japan-ASEAN relations was that ASEAN’s strategic importance has been increasing more than ever. ASEAN has the population of 600 million, the remarkable economic growth that reached approximately three-fold increase in GDP in the past 10 years, and it is located in the sea lanes that are vital to Japan. Putting all these factors into consideration, peace and prosperity of ASEAN is directly linked to peace and prosperity of the entire East Asian region, including Japan.
For Japan, ASEAN is the key region for its growth strategy, as ASEAN today has become Japan's second largest trading partner and the largest investment destination in East Asia. With the production network in ASEAN, which is the base of 6800 Japanese companies in operation and 120,000 Japanese expatriates living, Japan has been promoting the liberalization of trade and investment. In addition, ASEAN has become a popular travel destination for Japanese people. Japanese pop culture has also gained great popularity in the region.
Since the First Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting in 1977 and the announcement of Fukuda Doctrine that aimed at “heart-to-heart” understanding and equal partnership between Japan and ASEAN, our countries have walked together hand-in-hand. In line with this spirit, the Joint Declaration and the Plan of Action toward 2015 were adopted last year as the guideline to promote strategic partnership between us. Specifically, in order to support ASEAN Community Building by 2015, Japan will continue to support ASEAN’s efforts for enhancing ASEAN Connectivity, through, inter alia, infrastructure maintenance and system standardization that will strengthen ASEAN’s economic integration. In view of eliminating development gaps, Japan will support the development of the Mekong region that has close ties with Japan. In addition, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan would like to strengthen the Japan-ASEAN cooperation in the field of disaster management.
Next year marks the 40th Anniversary of Japan-ASEAN relationship. With the trust that has been built based on the long history of friendly relationship between Japan and ASEAN, I will make my utmost efforts to develop even closer relations and to further promote cooperation in order to solve regional and global issues of our mutual concern. I wish I could have your continued support and cooperation for this endeavour.