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Japan, ASEAN Agree to Step Up Cooperation in Maritime Security, Strengthen Supply Chains

Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday agreed to expand relations in the security and economic fields amid China’s growing clout.

The agreement was reached at the Japan-ASEAN summit in Tokyo, which was attended by leaders from the 10-member grouping, and marks the 50th anniversary of their friendship and cooperation, Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported.

Myanmar’s junta regime was not invited to the regional summit due to the 2021 military coup in the country.

Additionally, Timor Leste also attended to the summit as an observer as ASEAN has agreed in principle to admit the nation as its 11th member.

In a joint vision statement issued after the meeting, the leaders pledged to step up cooperation on maritime security, strengthen supply chains, promote sustainable energy practices, and expand people-to-people exchanges in various sectors.

They also announced the launch of a new initiative for the next-generation car industry aimed at mapping out strategies to enable ASEAN to continue being a major hub of auto production and exports.

Supporting digital startups as well as accelerating public and private investment to achieve decarbonization are among other new efforts to further boost the economy in the fast-growing region.

The leaders also released plans to implement their agreements, listing 130 projects in specific cooperative fields, including agriculture, sports, culture, education, and tourism.

Addressing a news conference along with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that based on strong mutual trust, Japan and ASEAN will tackle new challenges.

He said his country will take measures to mobilize over $35 billion in public and private funds over the next five years to facilitate investment in ASEAN, while also fostering the exchange of young business leaders with the region.

Widodo, who served as the co-chair of the summit as the ASEAN chair, said that Japan and the bloc will maintain peace and stability in the region while adhering to international law.

Japan’s relations with developing ASEAN nations used to focus on financial assistance, however, Tokyo is currently exploiting the grouping to counter China’s increasing influence in the South China Sea.

The nine participating ASEAN leaders are scheduled to hold a separate summit of the 11-member Asia Zero Emission Community, also involving Japan and Australia, on Monday, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions.

Apart from Kishida and Widodo, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Laos’s Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Prince Abdul Mateen, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Mamet, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and Timor Leste’s Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao also attended the summit.

Source : aa