ASEAN and Japan Senior Officials participating in the 30th ASEAN-Japan Forum, held on June 22 in Cambodia, reaffirmed the importance of the strategic partnership between two sides and agreed to explore new opportunities to further the relationship.

At the forum, two sides took note of the progress in ASEAN-Japan relations, especially since the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in 2013 marking the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan relations.

Japan is the ASEAN’s third largest trading partner and second biggest source of foreign investment. Japan is also a leading partner in boosting regional connectivity with a list of 70 projects, which help implement the master plan on ASEAN connectivity. The country also proactively joined hands with ASEAN to tackle climate change and natural disasters through financial and technical supports to enhance the capacity of ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).

A large number of activities and projects have been implemented or ongoing under the newly established Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) worth 100 million USD to enhance cultural ties and people-to-people contacts.

On economic relations, ASEAN and Japan agreed to expeditiously conclude negotiations on upgrading the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and to achieve the targets of the ASEAN-Japan 10-Year Strategic Economic Cooperation Roadmap (2012-2022) to double trade and investment flows by 2022.

Both sides recognised the implications of the evolving regional and global security environment and agreed to enhance cooperation to promote regional peace and stability.

In this regard, ASEAN and Japan emphasized the importance of maintaining peace, stability, freedom and safety of navigation in and over-flight above the East Sea.

Meanwhile, Japan reiterated its support for ASEAN’s ongoing efforts to realise full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the East Sea (DOC) and early conclusion of a Code of Conduct on the East Sea (COC).

The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in addressing non-traditional security challenges, particularly transnational crimes including terrorism and extremism, cybercrime, sea piracy and pandemic threats.-VNA