Indispensable Economic Partnership between ASEAN and Japan
ASEAN and Japan have become increasingly important trading partners to each other over the recent years. In Japan, the total two-way trade value between ASEAN and Japan expanded to over 20 trillion yen in 2007, accounting for 13.0% of Japan’s overall trade figures. Conversely, trade with Japan accounts for 10.9% of ASEAN’s total trade figures, which makes Japan as one of the largest trading partners of ASEAN together with China and the U.S.
Lately, structural changes in the nature of the trade relationship between ASEAN and Japan had occurred, and the interdependent relationship between the two parties has developed. In the past, Japan used to import raw materials as well as agricultural and marine products, and export manufactured goods to ASEAN. However, the import percentage for manufactured goods from ASEAN, which was less than 10% of the total amount of imports in 1980, rose to more than 54 % in 2007. The manufactured products imported from ASEAN countries are mainly represented by electronics, machinery and textiles.
As for investment, ASEAN is an important destination to Japan in parallel with China and the U.S. Using influx of capital from overseas as an opportunity, ASEAN has achieved a remarkable economic growth and has shown a great progress in the advancement of its industrial structure. In 2007, around 4,500 Japanese companies operated in ASEAN (according to the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry), and around 110,000 Japanese people lived in the region.
More than 3.7 Million Japanese Tourists Visit ASEAN Annually
ASEAN is enriched with attractive tourism destinations which include renowned resorts in breathtaking natural surroundings and historical places that are designated as World Heritage Sites. In addition, having almost no time difference with Japan, ASEAN countries are popular destinations for Japanese tourists as one could casually enjoy overseas travelling. As a result, more than 3.7 million Japanese tourists visit ASEAN per year. Since tourism is an important industry to ASEAN, various promotional activities are being implemented, such as upgrading hotels and Japanese-language training for local tour guides, to improve quality of service of the receiving countries and to invite more tourists to the region.
Japan is the Largest Donor of ODA to ASEAN
Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) extends to over 160 countries and regions in the world, trying to promote economic growth of developing countries and assisting poverty alleviation. Japan’s ODA to ASEAN accounts for 9.4% (US$ 700 million) of its total amount. Japan is the largest ODA donor to ASEAN, contributing in wide range of fields such as infrastructure development, construction of schools and hospitals, and restoration and preservation of heritages.
In recent years, in order to narrow intra-ASEAN economic gaps, Japan’s ODA focuses on human resource development as well as development of the Mekong region that which includes ASEAN’s four new members: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and Thailand.