In the past year, the world encountered extreme difficulties due to Covid-19. We still are facing major social and economic challenges. Despite these challenges, the relationship between Japan and Singapore has proven to be strong and resilient. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Japan and Singapore continue to be important and valuable partners. Japan is Asia’s largest investor in Singapore, while Singapore is the largest investor in Japan among the Asian countries. Moreover, Japan and Singapore are key members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), since they are the chairman of this year’s and next year’s CPTPP Commission, respectively.
In addition, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, in which both Japan and Singapore are members, was signed last year. Both Agreements, CPTPP and RCEP, will definitely provide for our two countries, as well as for other member economies, a vast opportunity to expand and enhance economic links and to achieve economic growth.
The ASEAN member states agreed on the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)” in 2019. The Outlook is based on the principles of, among other elements, strengthening ASEAN centrality, openness, transparency, inclusivity, a rules-based framework, respect for international law, renunciation of the threat or use of force and promotion of rule of law.
It shares many fundamental commonalities with the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” that Japan has been advocating. Japan strongly supports AOIP. Japan has and will work together in the areas highlighted in the AOIP, including in the area of connectivity infrastructure.
Japan launched in 2020 the “Japan-ASEAN Connectivity Initiative,” with focus on the ongoing two trillion-yen worth of quality infrastructure projects. Japan will help strengthen the land, sea, and air corridor connectivity, through infrastructure development together with human resources development of 1,000 individuals over three years.
At Japan Creative Centre (JCC), the cultural arm of the Embassy of Japan in Singapore, we bring Japan to the Singaporean people. While adhering to the safety measures to tackle COVID-19, JCC was able to showcase the livelihood of the Japanese people through innovative ways. One example was Japanese Film Festival 2020 held in December.
That Festival, co-organized by JCC together with the Singapore Film Society and the Japan Foundation, is one of the longest running annual film festivals in Singapore. It was a hybrid presentation combining both online and physical screenings. JCC will continue to seek ways, in keeping with the times, to hold exhibitions and online workshops to introduce various flavors of Japan.