The meeting was held in the framework of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-54) and related conferences.

On behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Son said the ASEAN-Japan partnership has experienced nearly five decades and is growing strongly.

Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son (right) and his Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu co-chair the event.

ASEAN and Japan have become reliable friends who have supported and assisted each other in hard times, he said, adding that the two sides have taken advantages of opportunities and overcome challenges, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, to expand and deepen cooperation on pillars for peace and prosperity.

Motegi affirmed that Japan attaches importance to the Japan-ASEAN strategic partnership, support ASEAN’s central role and wants to coordinate with the bloc to effectively implement the Joint Statement of the 23rd ASEAN-Japan Summit on Cooperation on ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific via specific cooperation projects.

As a friend of ASEAN, Japan will continue to help ASEAN member nations enhance preventative medicine capacity and provide them with medical supplies, medicines and vaccines as well as cold storage equipment and financial assistance to boost their post-pandemic recovery efforts, he said.

The participating countries committed to holding events marking the 50th anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan relations and agreed on the organisation of a commemorative summit in Japan in 2023.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers spoke highly of positive strides in the ASEAN-Japan ties over the past time, as well as Japan’s timely and effective assistance in the fight against COVID-19 since the pandemic broke out.

Of note, Japan contributed 1 million USD to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund and another 50 million USD to help establish the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergency and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED).

The ASEAN countries and Japan agreed to continue cooperation in COVID-19 response, easing adverse impacts of the pandemic and fostering comprehensive recovery towards sustainable development.

ASEAN asked Japan to ensure vaccine supply in an equitable and fair manner, help sustain activities of the ACPHEED, and support recovery efforts along with high-quality infrastructure investment and development in sub-regions, especially the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Exchanging views on matters of mutual concerns, the two sides agreed to coordinate together to ensure peace, security and stability in the region, including security and safety of navigation in the East Sea (South China Sea), which is viewed as the world’s important shipping route and faces risks of instability and complicated developments amid current challenges.

Japan affirmed to back ASEAN’s standpoint on the East Sea and applauded the bloc’s efforts to uphold its role in promoting cooperation, dialogue, and trust-building in the region, ensuring the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the building of an effective and practical Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS).

Japan also asserted that it backs ASEAN’s role in promoting dialogue, reconciliation and assistance to Myanmar to seek solutions for the country's stability.

The Vietnamese minister affirmed ASEAN’s consistent stance on the East Sea issue and proposed Japan support the bloc’s efforts in building the East Sea into a region of peace, stability, cooperation, security, safety and environmental friendliness.

At the end of the conference, Son handed over the coordinator role in the 2021-2024 period to his Thai counterpart.

He thanked Japan and other ASEAN members for supporting Vietnam to fulfill the role in the past three years, pledging that Vietnam will continue to work with Thailand, the next coordinator, together with Japan and other ASEAN nations in bringing the ASEAN-Japan relations to a new height.

Source: VNA