Conference on ASEAN-Japan Partnership

The Conference on ASEAN-Japan Partnership, ‘Celebrating 45 Years of Dialogue Relations’, was held on 23 March 2018 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.

23 March 2018 — The Conference on ASEAN-Japan Partnership, ‘Celebrating 45 Years of Dialogue Relations’, was held on 23 March 2018 at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore. The event was supported by the Embassy of Japan and Singapore, and was attended by approximately 130 delegates.

The welcome remarks were delivered by Mr Choi Shing Kwok (Director ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute) and H.E. Kenji Shinoda (Ambassador of Japan to Singapore). The sessions that followed then sought to provide guests with a comprehensive overview of ASEAN-Japan cooperation, with regard to regional political security, economic development, Japan’s multi-stakeholder engagement in ASEAN and cultural cooperation.

Mr Choi Shing Kwok delivering the welcome remarks (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

H.E. Kenji Shinoda during his opening speech (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Session 1 on political cooperation was chaired by Dr Tang Siew Mun (Head, ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute). During this session, Dr Mie Oba (Tokyo University of Science, Japan), shared her thoughts on Japan’s role in regionalism and multilateralism, including Japan’s multi-layered engagement of the regional architecture, the TPP11, the RCEP and the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. Dr Ken Jimbo (Keio University, Japan), also shared his views on Japan’s role in regional security cooperation, including Japan’s moves to develop security networks, capacities and institutions. Dr Malcolm Cook (Senior Fellow, Regional Strategic and Political Studies Programme, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute) also shared his views on Japan, and its management of major power dynamics in ASEAN.

From left to right: Dr Mie Oba, Dr Tang Siew Mun, Dr Ken Jimbo, and Dr Malcolm Cook (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Session 2 on economic cooperation was moderated by Dr Tham Siew Yean (Senior Fellow, Regional Economic Studies Programme, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute). Dr Fukunari Kimura (Keio University, Japan) spoke on the changing nature of Japanese trade and investment, and Japan’s contribution to regional economic development, covering the first and second unbundling in ASEAN. Dr Yuri Sato (Executive Vice President, The Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organisation) spoke on the evolution of Japanese multinational corporations in ASEAN, touching on regional supply chains developed by Japanese MNCs, the dialogue between ASEAN and Japanese MNCs, as well as current prospects and challenges. Dr Sanchita Basu Das (Lead Researcher (Economics), ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute) also shared her views on Japan’s engagement in infrastructure development in ASEAN, particularly in terms of investment and funding.

From left to right: Dr Fukunari Kimura, Dr Tham Siew Yean, Dr Yuri Sato, and Dr Sanchita Basu Das (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Session 3 on Japan’s multi-stakeholder engagement in ASEAN was chaired by Professor Yoshihide Soeya (Keio University, Japan). During this session, Dr Pham Quang Minh (University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University) provides his assessment of Japan’s engagement in the Mekong region, in particular, Japan’s Mekong initiative, and its pillars of engagement, specifically strategic convergence, economic integration, and Mekong cultural ties. Dr Dennis Trinidad (Department of International Studies, De La Salle University) then spoke on Japan’s post-Yen diplomacy in ASEAN, particularly the forms of and evolution of Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans to ASEAN, and the relevance of ODA in contemporary ASEAN. Dr Tatsuya Hata (Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Kindai University) then provided participants with an overview of Japanese non-governmental organisations’ activities and their scope in ASEAN, specifically regarding the ASEAN member states within which these organisations operate, for whom these projects are implemented, their financial resources and important partners, as well as the future tasks of these organisations in ASEAN.

From left to right: Dr Pham Quang Minh, Yoshihide Soeya, Dr Dennis Trinidad, and Dr Tatsuya Hata (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Session 4 on cultural cooperation was chaired my Dr Thang Leng Leng (Head, Department of Japanese Studies, National University of Singapore). Dr Kitti Prasirstuk (Vice Rector and Director, East Asia Institute, Thammasat University) spoke on Japan’s soft power and its impact on ASEAN-Japan relations, raising a variety of examples from pop culture, including Japanese cosplay, cartoons and manga to demonstrate the way in which Japanese soft power has spread throughout the ASEAN region. Dr Akiko Fukushima (School of Global Studies and Collaboration, Aoyama Gakuin University) then shared her views on Japan’s cultural initiatives with ASEAN, covering Japan’s strategies for managing socio-cultural relations with ASEAN from the Fukuda doctrine to the Abe doctrine, raising as well some examples of Japan’s cultural initiatives.

From left to right: Dr Kitti Prasirstuk, Dr Thang Leng Leng, and Dr Akiko Fukushima (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Approximately 130 delegates attended the event. (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

For a transcript of Mr Choi Shing Kwok’s welcoming remarks, click here.
For H.E. Kenji Shinoda’s welcoming remarks, click here.

Click here for more photos of the event.