Mekong-Japan relations to foster ASEAN integration

Japan-Mekong co-operation is necessary for the Mekong sub-region's socio-economic development and the ASEAN integration process, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said at the seventh Mekong-Japan Summit held in Tokyo on Saturday.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (right) is received by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, where he is attending the Mekong-Japan Summit. (Photo: VNS/VNA)

The Prime Minister expressed his agreement with other leaders' views on the 2015 Tokyo Strategy on Mekong-Japan co-operation, which aims to ensure regional stability and qualitative growth.

Three major points would help member states achieve their robust growth targets: solid economic foundations, balancing economic gains with environmental protection, and development, Dung said. He also highlighted recent developments in the East Sea. The large-scale construction of artificial reef islands violates international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), reduces mutual trust and raises tension across the region.

Nations across the region and world are responsible for and have the benefit of maintaining maritime security and freedom of navigation in all waters.

The parties involved should sustain peace and stability in line with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Dung said.

All sides should abide by their commitments to the DOC and work toward the formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), he continued.

At the summit, Japanese leaders and representatives from the five Mekong countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam – reviewed the 2012 Tokyo Strategy and adopted the 2015 Tokyo Strategy for the 2016-2018 period.

They agreed to develop regional industrial infrastructure, focusing on urban development, energy and transportation. They also discussed stimulating the industrial sectors and regional value chain by building special economic zones; promoting sustainable growth; co-ordinating action on climate change and the management of Mekong River water; and increasing co-operation with other Mekong sub-region mechanisms, the private sector and international organisations.

Foreign and trade ministers from the participating countries were asked to devise action plans for Mekong industrial development.

The summit hailed the US$6.1 billion in official development assistance (ODA) Japan will give Mekong countries over the next three years. Between 2012 and 2015, Japan gave US$4.9 billion in aid to the region.

With the goal of maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region, the leaders reaffirmed their determination to deepen co-operation among the member countries on regional and international issues.

In the 2015 Tokyo Strategy, the leaders emphasised the importance of maritime security and safety. They underscored the full implementation of the DOC and working toward the formation of a COC.

They expressed their concern over recent developments in the East Sea, which have made the situation more complicated, undermined trust and affected regional peace and stability.

Meeting with Abe

On the same day, Dung held talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who pledged that Japan would support Viet Nam in its high-quality infrastructure development.

PM Dung said Viet Nam treasured its partnership with Japan and always favoured Japan's role and positive contributions to peace, stability, co-operation and progress in the region and the world.

Both sides agreed to maintain visits, meetings and dialogues at all levels to deepen political trust. In this spirit, Abe welcomed a visit to Japan by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. He himself accepted the invitation to visit Viet Nam again soon.

Regarding economic co-operation, the two prime ministers vowed to co-ordinate closely on important joint projects, while building middle- and long-term visions on agricultural affiliation.

Abe committed to maintain Japan's ODA for Viet Nam's sustainable growth, including funds for the construction of Cho Ray 2 Hospital, also known as the Viet Nam-Japan Friendship Hospital.

Dung said he highly appreciated Abe's support of Viet Nam's proposal on Japan's phase-one ODA commitment worth 300 billion JPY ($3 billion) for Viet Nam's projects in fiscal 2015.

The Japanese PM said he would consider Viet Nam's request on maintaining and increasing its support of climate change response, economic governance and competitiveness enhancement programmes.

Meanwhile, Dung asked the Japanese Government continue helping Viet Nam develop its human resources, while encouraging Japanese firms to engage in the Viet Nam-Japan University project and expand the reception of Vietnamese nurses.

He added that Viet Nam always encouraged Japanese enterprises to invest in northern Ha Noi's "smart urban area" project.

Both sides agreed to create all favourable conditions necessary for businesses in both countries to increase trade relations, foreign direct investment and tourism collaboration.

They concurred to strengthen co-operation in investment, agriculture and human resources development, while evaluating the possibility to co-operate within the $110 billion credit package announced by Abe in May this year for high-quality infrastructure growth in Asia.

The two prime ministers also discussed a number of regional and global issues of mutual concern, pledging to promote co-ordination at regional and international forums.

Dung said Viet Nam supports Japan's "positive pacifism" for the sake of peace, security, stability, co-operation and progress in the region and the world in line with the UN Charter and international law, while respecting other states' independence and sovereignty.

The leaders shared their deep concern over recent developments in the East Sea, especially the large-scale construction of islands.

They agreed on the importance of maintaining peace, security, safety and freedom, and called on all involved parties to avoid actions that would complicate or expand disputes in the East Sea.

Abe emphasised his concern about the unilateral changing of the status quo on such a large scale, as well as the construction of military bases in the region, adding that Japan would help maintain maritime order.

The two leaders also announced the basic conclusion of bilateral negotiations on their Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, while pledging to work with other member countries to conclude talks on the deal.

PM Dung lauded Japan's contributions to the success of the seventh Mekong-Japan Summit with the approval of the new Tokyo Strategy.

Following their talks, the two prime ministers witnessed the signing of a number of agreements, including a 66 billion JPY deal on loans for five projects in the 2014 fiscal year, and a memorandum of understanding on co-operation between Viet Nam's Ministry of Industry and Trade and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on the formation of a Joint Committee on collaboration in industry, trade and energy.

Source: VNS

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