ASEAN welcomes Japan's stronger involvement in blocUpdated: 2013-10-09 15:26
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Bruneian Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said here Wednesday that ASEAN welcomes "ever stronger Japanese involvement" in the 10-nation bloc.
Hassanal made the remarks at the ASEAN-Japan Summit held back- to-back with the 23rd ASEAN Summit that kicked off here Wednesday morning.
He said Japan is one of ASEAN's significant partners and played an important role in helping the group to develop its economic and industrial capabilities and to narrow the region's development gaps.
The sultan said numerous programs were created since 1977 when Japan made a declaration to enhance heart-to-heart relations with ASEAN and positive outlooks have been made such as close ties between peoples and mutual trust which is vital to ASEAN-Japan partnership.
Hassanal added that Japan's growth has brought benefits to ASEAN over the years and said he believes Abe's growth strategy will have desired impacts on the region.
He said informal meetings between the two sides' finance ministers and central bankers in this year provided a platform to explore ways to further enhance cooperation between ASEAN member states and Japan, adding it is important for them to maintain a close economic tie.
For his part, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan has attached importance to ASEAN, as he paid several visits to the ASEAN countries since he retook the post last December.
He said the ASEAN-Japan Summit will find ways to further develop bilateral relations.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, and the two sides will hold an ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December this year.
Brunei is Abe's eighth ASEAN country that he paid visit after reclaiming prime minister and the two countries has held a bilateral meeting by the sidelines of the summit also on Wednesday.
According to Japanese deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko, the prime minister will visit the remaining two ASEAN members of Laos and Cambodia within this year.