ASEAN-Japan relations will be further greatly enhanced, said H.E. Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation at the Public Seminar on “ASEAN-Japan Cooperation and Ways Forward in the Next 50 Years,” held here on Saturday. 

“We don’t know where we will be in the next 50 years, but let’s set some visions for our children and grandchildren for the next 50 years… and hope that ASEAN-Japan relations will be greatly enhanced,” he said.

The ASEAN-Japan relations were established nearly 50 years ago, making Japan one of ASEAN’s oldest partners, he continued, stressing that since then, ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation have continued to deepen and broaden, based on mutual trust and equal partnership. Japan’s continued commitment to promoting durable peace, shared prosperity and sustainable development is truly felt and appreciated in our region. Indeed, ASEAN views Japan as our closest friend and a reliable partner.

“Next year, we look forward to the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Relations. All these years, ASEAN appreciated Japan’s unwavering support for ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-centred regional architecture which have substantially contributed to regional peace and security. Our cooperation covers various areas from combatting transnational crimes, maritime security, and cybersecurity to practical trust and confidence building measures in the region. In the context of Japan’s Free and Open Indo Pacific strategy, many cooperation activities found some synergy in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP),” the Cambodian top diplomat added.  

In the area of economic cooperation, he pointed out, Japan is ASEAN’s fourth largest trading partner, with two-way trade amounting to US$ 204.0 billion. Japan is also ASEAN’s third largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI), with total FDI inflows from Japan amounting to US$ 8.5 billion in 2020. “Together, ASEAN and Japan have worked to promote regional supply chain connectivity, especially in recent years as we intensify our economic recovery efforts in the post-COVID-19 pandemic. Here I find the role of the Japanese business sector very crucial and they continue to invest in ASEAN, taking advantage of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” he said.

According to H.E. Prak Sokhonn, in the area of Socio-Cultural Cooperation, ASEAN appreciates Japan’s “heart-to-heart” partnership which has made substantial inroads in promoting cultural, sports and people-to-people exchanges. Advancing people-to-people connectivity, especially among the youth, was also another way to strengthen cooperation in tourism and education. Japan’s support to ASEAN’s efforts in narrowing the development gap through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration was and is also much appreciated.

“Moving forward for the next 50 years, there are great expectations that the ASEAN-Japan relations will be greatly enhanced. Japan’s interest in establishing ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is certainly the best route to boost our relations in the areas of digital economy and digital infrastructure, innovation, smart cities, infrastructure development, and human resource development, especially for highly-skilled digital workforce,” he stated.

The huge potential and benefit of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, which has entered into force on Jan. 1, 2022, will be a significant contributor to the post-pandemic economic recovery efforts in the short term. In the long run, this mega free trade agreement will certainly transform our region beyond our expectations.

“I also foresee ASEAN-Japan advancing cooperation in building capacity for Small and Medium Enterprises, women and young entrepreneurs, especially in their application of digital technology for businesses. In addressing climate change, there are also much more potential in expanding practical cooperation on green growth as well as promoting transition to clean energy and low-carbon society,” the Cambodian DPM said. 

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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