Contributed Article by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on ASEAN-related Summit Meetings to the Indonesian Newspaper Kompas

September 6, 2023

[Provisional translation]


ASEAN-related Summit Meetings with the theme of “Epicentrum of Growth” started yesterday under the Chair of Indonesia. I am extremely pleased to have a chance to visit Indonesia again as Prime Minister of Japan, following my visits in this April and November last year.
This year marks the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation and the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Indonesia. During their visit to Indonesia as state guests in June, Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress received a heartwarming welcome from President Joko Widodo and the people of Indonesia and had many opportunities to communicate with them. Following the visit of Their Majesties, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of Indonesia for their hospitality in welcoming our delegation this time.
Half a century since Japan pioneered in the world in establishing a dialogue with ASEAN, Japan and ASEAN have together followed a path of development of integration not only as major trade and investment partners, but also as true friends based on “heart-to-heart” relationship. It has not been a smooth path. But each time we have faced major difficulties, such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic, we have reached out to each other and worked together for the peace and stability in the region, as well as its sustainable development and prosperity. The partnership between Japan and ASEAN is characterized by its long-standing history based on mutual understanding and trust.
Boosted by the dramatic development of ASEAN countries, our region has grown into a powerful driver of the world economy. I believe it very timely that Indonesia has adopted the theme of “Epicentrum of Growth” as this year’s ASEAN Chair.
At a time when the international community is at a very difficult turning point in history, the key to keeping the region as a peaceful and stable “Epicentrum of Growth” is maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law. Currently, our region is facing various challenges. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not just an issue in Europe, but is a challenge to the very principles on which the entire international community rests. The soaring food and energy prices, accelerated by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, has also affected the livelihoods of people in the region. Turning to the Indo-Pacific region, we are facing with challenges such as unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force and North Korea's intensified nuclear and missile activities, along with urgent issues of building resilient supply chains and addressing economic coercion. I am convinced that it would be beneficial not only to Japan and ASEAN but also to the entire world that we develop and enrich this region as a region free from such force or coercion and where freedom and the rule of law are respected.
The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), respectively advocated by ASEAN and Japan, share the fundamental principles, such as openness, transparency, inclusiveness and respect for international law. It is extremely important to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order based on the rule of law and to promote concrete initiatives that contribute to such fundamental principles.
Announcing a new plan for FOIP in March this year, I cited first Southeast Asia as an important region and pledged a contribution of 100 million dollars to Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund(JAIF), which has contributed to the integration of ASEAN. In addition, to further strengthen both hard and soft connectivity, I announced the renewal of the comprehensive “Japan-ASEAN Connectivity Initiative.” Specifically, in addition to conventional support for the development of transport infrastructure, we will promote technical cooperation in a wide range of areas including digital connectivity, maritime cooperation, supply chains resilience, electricity connectivity and human and knowledge connectivity, thereby assisting the further deepening of ASEAN integration and strengthening the ties between Japan and ASEAN. We will announce this new initiative during this visit to Indonesia.
In order to hand down to the next generation the “heart-to-heart” partnership that lays the foundation of our close relationship, it is also necessary to further strengthen a wide range of people-to-people exchanges. Japan will further promote attractive cultural, people-to-people and intellectual exchanges and support for Japanese language education, such as the youth exchange program called “JENESYS” and the “WA project” by the Japan Foundation.
One hundred one days from today in December, as a conclusion of this year’s 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, a Special Summit Meeting will be held in Tokyo to jointly issue a vision of the future direction of Japan-ASEAN relations and cooperation. At the ASEAN-related Summit Meetings to start tomorrow, I would like to confirm close cooperation with the ASEAN countries toward this Special Summit Meeting.
While continuing to support “ASEAN centrality and unity,” Japan will join hands with friends within ASEAN for the peace and prosperity of the region, working together to address our common and current challenges, such as climate change, public health crises, digitalization and AI governance.
I hope that this one year will be judged by history to have handed down to the future generation the long-standing “Golden Friendship” between Japan and ASEAN, thus serving as the “Golden Opportunities” to together carve out a new era.
I am sincerely looking forward to deepening friendship with the people I will meet during this coming stay.


Related Link

Archives (Archived entries for the 98th through 100th prime ministers)