Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has affirmed that the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a specially important partner of his country and plays the central role in Japan ’s foreign policy.

Prime Minister Abe, who has visited all 10 ASEAN nations since he took office in December last year, made the remarks in an interview granted to correspondents from ASEAN member countries in Tokyo on December 12 on the threshold of the Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit.

He said by hosting the summit in Tokyo in December 13-15, Japan wants to further affirm the strategic partnership between the two sides and elevate the ties to a higher level.

Japan is expected to discuss issues related to politics, security, economics, society and environment with ASEAN leaders during the meeting, Abe said, adding that the agenda will also focus on middle-term and long-term visions in order to foster and deepen their ties through new cooperation fields such as cultural and people-to-people exchange.

On the basis of Japan ’s foreign policy for ASEAN set out in January, the Summit is scheduled to touch upon the future-looking cooperative relationship and the central role of Japan-ASEAN ties in international arena.

During the interview, Abe said the Japan-ASEAN strategic partnership has seen increasingly development, contributing significantly to regional and global peace and prosperity. He also described ASEAN as a locomotive for the global economy and an indispensable partner for the recovery of Japan ’s economy.

The 10-member ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA