A meeting to mark the 40 th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation was held in Jakarta, Indonesia on January 18.

Addressing the function, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh affirmed that Japan is one of ASEAN’s oldest and most important dialogue partners.

According to Minh, Japan has always stood side-by-side with ASEAN, and strengthened connectivity, economic cooperation, trade and investment with the association as it develops and integrates to build an ASEAN community by 2015.

Japan also shares common concerns with ASEAN in the battle against terrorism and natural disasters, and ensuring maritime safety and maintaining peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region, he added.

The ASEAN Secretary General stated that the bloc welcomes links with Japan that will bring economic benefits and expand their bilateral ties in the future.

He noted that Japan is now ASEAN’s second largest trade partner, with two-way trade reaching 273.35 billion USD in 2011.

Japanese Ambassador to ASEAN Ishikane Kimuhiru stressed that Japan values its ties with ASEAN. He spoke highly of the association’s central role in ensuring regional peace, security and stability.

He also reiterated Japan’s pledge to support ASEAN in economic development and regional integration to build an ASEAN community by 2015, especially through the group’s connectivity programmes.

According to the Ambassador, Both Japan and ASEAN share common traditional challenges and desire peace, security and stability in the East Sea and the region.

ASEAN has played a central role in the region, ensured peace, and developed into a global economic driving force, he added.

He said that Japan and ASEAN have jointly organised many activities to celebrate their 40 th anniversary of friendship and cooperation, including a meeting to mark their dialogue partnership on January 18 in Jakarta, and the upcoming ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit that will take place in Japan at the end of the year.-VNA