Leaders of ASEAN members and Japan at the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit in Singapore (Photo: VNA)

Singapore (VNA) – Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has underlined strong commitments of ASEAN in promoting and elevating the strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation between the grouping and Japan for peace, stability and prosperity of each side as well as the whole region.

As the leader of the coordinator country for the ASEAN-Japan relations, the PM was addressing the 21st ASEAN - Japan Summit and the celebration of the 45 years of ties between ASEAN and Japan in Singapore on November 14 within the framework of the 33rd ASEAN Summit.

He held that the ASEAN-Japan strategic partnership and comprehensive cooperation have seen good progress in all three pillars, with many practical activities, especially in the fields of maritime security, anti-terrorism and trans-national criminal combat, cyber security, nuclear weapon non-proliferation and disarmament, law enforcement training, jurisdiction promotion and defence cooperation.

Japan is the fourth biggest trade partner and second largest investor of ASEAN, as well as the leading ODA provider of many ASEAN member countries, he noted.

ASEAN highly values support of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund in health care, environment, natural disaster control, climate change, science-technology and innovation, as well as in connection through the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and ASEAN Plan of Action on narrowing development gap, and Mekong-Subregion development.

Sharing PM Phuc’s opinions, other ASEAN countries agreed to further promote the sound cooperation between the two sides over the past 45 years and welcomed Japan to continue performing its active and responsible role in the region, while coordinating with ASEAN at forums chaired by the grouping, and contributing to promoting dialogues, building trust and strengthening cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit and respect.

For his part, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe agreed to foster comprehensive collaboration with ASEAN and support the association’s central role as well as efforts in enhancing regional cooperation and connectivity.

He briefed participants on the plan to hold the ASEAN-Japan Day in Vietnam in 2019 to strengthen mutual understanding between people of both sides.

He also introduced many cooperation initiatives such as a fund of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to support infrastructure cooperation in the region, high quality human resources development, exploiting opportunities from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, preventing ocean plastic waste, responding to natural disasters and climate change, and providing health care services for the public.

He stressed that ASEAN and Japan should work harder to reinforce opening, equal and law-based multilateral trade.

He lauded Singapore, Vietnam and Japan’s ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), expressing his hope for the soon finalisation of negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

The Japanese PM reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security, freedom and safety of navigation and aviation in the East Sea, respecting diplomatic and legal processes, and upholding principles of international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, while stressing efforts to build an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

PM Phuc recognised ideas of Japan, highlighting the ASEAN’s stance on the East Sea issue and hope that Japan will continue supporting ASEAN’s efforts in strengtheing dialogue and trust, creating a favourable environment for COC negotiations.

He also hailed Japan’s initiatives to promote connectivity between the rims of Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, pledging that Vietnam will do its utmost to accelerate the ASEN-Japan ties.

Vietnam welcomes the Japanese PM’s idea of organising the ASEAN-Japan Day in Vietnam, he stated, adding that Vietnam is ready to work with Japan on the event.

Concluding the summit, leaders of ASEAN and Japan agreed to approve a declaration on the 45th anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation.-VNA