Japan and Singapore: A unified approach to society and ASEAN

Japan and Singapore have dynamic and well-established economies. Both countries actively contribute to the global community, including member countries of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Japan is the world’s third largest economy and a global technology leader. Singapore is the world’s most advanced and competitive economy, surpassing the United States, according to the World Economic Forums’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Report.

Both countries contribute to one another’s advancement said Ambassador Peter Tan Hai Chuan, Ambassador of Singapore to Japan; “Singapore and Japan enjoy long-standing economic ties, underpinned by strong trade, investment and tourism linkages.”

“Japan is Asia’s largest investor in Singapore, while Singapore is the biggest investor in Japan among Asian countries,” said H.E. Jun Yamazaki, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore.

“Japan’s trade value with Singapore is increasing in both exports and imports and the number of Japanese companies in Singapore is on the rise. Japan has supported ASEAN connectivity in a major way and has implemented numerous hard and soft infrastructure projects.”

Cooperation is being strengthened by organizations such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Toshiyasu Suzuki, Assistant Director Southeast Asia Division 2 for JICA: “Singapore was the first country to cooperate with JICA to provide aid to developing countries. Today, many countries in a position to provide aid are following this example.”

“The JSPP21 (Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century) is one of the main areas of cooperation between the governments of Japan and Singapore. The Programme aims to train the leaders of developing nations around the world.

JICA hopes to continue working closely with Singapore to support the growth and stability of other developing nations around the world,” concluded Suzuki.

The ASEAN region is projected to become the fourth largest single market in the world by 2020. The region is experiencing steady growth in various key sectors and is a strategic destination for major trade routes.

“Many ASEAN Member States and Japan share fundamental principles such as the rule of law, freedom of navigation and free trade,” said Yamazaki.

“Japan welcomes the ‘ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’ which envisages ASEAN centrality as the underlying principle for promoting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. This is in line with Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept.”

The ASEAN Japan-Centre is strengthening economic partnerships between ASEAN Member States and Japan by focusing on trade, investment and tourism: including person-to-person exchanges.

“We continuously look at ways to promote the economic partnerships between Japan and ASEAN Member States as their relationships evolve,” said Masataka Fujita, Secretary General of the ASEAN-Japan Centre. “We are constantly working on ways and means to benefit the public at large in a unique manner. As an international organization, we are expanding our scope and responding to rising issues and challenges.”

Fujita added that the Centre aims to “analyze and provide insights into the importance of value-added trade and global value chains across the ASEAN region,” in addition to “promoting non-equity modes of operations for the ASEAN region to maximize benefits and minimize associated risks.”

With the recent outbreak of COVID- 19, Ambassador Peter Tan says it is crucial for Singapore and Japan to work hand-in-hand throughout this global challenge. “We must work together to maintain open and connected supply chains and ensure that trade lines remain open to facilitate the flow of goods including essential supplies. We should also cooperate with the international community to ensure that trade continues to flow unimpeded and that infrastructure such as our air and sea ports remain open to support the viability of global supply chains.”

“Looking ahead, Singapore will continue working with Japan and other ASEAN Member States to support an open and rules-based multilateral trading system. Japan has been an important dialogue partner for ASEAN,” he added.

“Singapore and Japan work hand in hand through valuable research and development initiatives. As a leading country, the next step for Singapore is to disseminate these findings to partners across the ASEAN region and ensure countries benefit and contribute to the further regional integration,” said Fujita

H.E Yamazaki concludes; “Moving forward, Japan will continue to cooperate with Singapore and other members of the ASEAN community to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the region and beyond.”


Key-opinion leaders from the Japan-Singapore business community share some insights

“Both Singapore and Japan share excellent relations and strong economic ties. Their common interest in promoting Southeast Asia’s economic growth, sustainable development and economic integration is in line with the vision of ASEAN 2020. Besides being fellow members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the two countries are also working closely towards a common goal of inking the Regional Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP) agreement in 2020. This major free trade agreement amongst the 15 participating countries marks significant progress for trade in the region.” — Ho Meng Kit, CEO of Singapore Business Federation

“For many years, Japan and Singapore have shared a common belief that the maintenance and strengthening of a free and open international economic order is crucial for economic growth. Since protectionism has risen around the world, I feel that this belief is becoming much more essential.

As CPTPP came into force in 2018, our next target is prompt realization of RCEP by all 16 countries. It is important for our two nations to continue working together to accomplish this objective, which will contribute to development and prosperity in Asia.

I hope and expect that our two countries will forge further bilateral economic ties and diversify business exchanges. Such efforts will cement our close and mutually beneficial relationship.” — Masakazu Kubota, Director General, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation)


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