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Japan, Asean 'heart-to-heart partners'

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second from left, raises a toast with Bruneis Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, left, and other ASEAN leaders during a welcome dinner of Japan-ASEAN commemorative summit hosted by Abe and his wife at the Abes official residence

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second from left, raises a toast with Bruneis Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, left, and other ASEAN leaders during a welcome dinner of Japan-ASEAN commemorative summit hosted by Abe and his wife at the Abes official residence

Abe govt to outline cooperation with region, discuss aid and row with China

Leaders from Asean and Japan will today map out the future direction of their cooperation, which is aimed at enhancing peace and prosperity in the region and playing a significant role together around the world.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will discuss and later announce his ideas on Japan's Official Development Assistance programme, as well as on the Japan Asean Integration Fund for forging future cooperation, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said. As total capital in the fund is getting low, Abe will seek ways to feed in more money in order to extend its capacity to enhance Asean integration, he said.

The summit, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Japan-Asean ties, will produce an instrument for a mid- to long-term vision to shape the future direction of cooperation.

The vision would make Japan and Asean "heart-to-heart partners" for peace, security, prosperity, quality of life and mutual trust, he added. This includes a range of cooperation issues, such as maritime security, rule of law, enhancement of connectivity, narrowing the development gap in the region, and disaster management.

At the beginning of his second term in office, Abe stressed the importance of ties with Asean.

He announced during a visit to Jakarta in January this year his five principles for Asean diplomacy: protection of freedom in the region; ensuring the rule of law at sea; pursuing free, open and interconnected economies; more fruitful intercultural ties; and promoting exchange among countries' younger generations.

During the summit, the leaders of both sides will discuss Japanese and Asean relations in the global context, so that the counties are better able to cope with regional and global challenges.

The issues cover regional security, Japan's new initiative on surety policy to make a "proactive contribution to peace", and its "Abenomics" economic policy, the official said. New challenges such as global health, climate change and terrorism will be also be on the agenda.

In the regional and global context, Abe will also discuss China's recent announcement of an Air Defence Identification Zone in East Asia, which Tokyo has made clear it opposes.

Today, the Japanese premier will attend the fifth Mekong-Japan summit with his colleagues from countries in the Mekong basin, including Thailand. This will be held immediately after the Japan-Asean summit.

Leaders attending the Mekong-Japan summit will announce a mid-term review of the "Tokyo Strategy 2012" for cooperation by both sides. The strategy, which covers the period through to the end of 2015, aims to enhance connectivity by developing the East-West Economic Corridor (Myanmar-Thailand-Laos-Vietnam) and the Southern Economic Corridor (Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam).

It also aims to enhance public-private partnership, improve the investment environment, promote tourism and ensure human security and environmental sustainability.

Environmental organisation International Rivers yesterday issued a statement in Bangkok calling on the leaders of Mekong countries to consider a study by the Mekong River Commission two years ago on the impact of dams on the mainstream Mekong - notably the Xayaburi dam in Laos.


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