Since its establishment in 1981, the ASEAN-Japan Centre has been working to strengthen economic partnerships between the ASEAN Member States and Japan in trade, investment and tourism, as well as promoting exchanges of persons between the two parties. Against a backdrop of evolving ASEAN-Japan relations over the years, the Centre is expected to play a new role to further enhance ASEAN-Japan relations as equal and heart-to-heart partners, and to implement timely activities that well reflect their needs.
Since I assumed the post of the Secretary General of the Centre in September 2015, I have been making efforts to transform the Centre for the better, by making it more relevant, efficient, effective and impactful. As the chief administrator of the Centre, I am reforming and revitalizing the Centre both administratively and substantively, in order to mainstream sustainable development and engender a result-oriented culture in all its activities.
Administratively, the Centre’s administrative framework is now governed by a result-based and impact-based management. Evaluation of the staff members is based on result-oriented performance.
Substantively, it has established the core value system comprising of relevance, quality, efficiency and impact, based on which all activities are assessed with SMART (specific-measurable-achievable-relevant-time bound) indicators. The Centre’s activities are rigorously chosen with new approaches including a more region-wide approach, integration of capacity building and policy work and a multidisciplinary approach to tackle the issues faced by ASEAN.
This substantive and administrative transformation is already being put to work in the Centre’s activities.
As I start my second term in September 2018, while administrative and substantive reform continues, my efforts shifted more to structural reform. Speed, agility and flexibility are three elements required. Taking into account the three key tasks of 1) dealing with the new agenda between ASEAN and Japan including initiatives between the two parties (e.g. environment, health); 2) promoting ASEAN integration and narrowing the development gap; and 3) strengthening outreach and PR activities, the Centre was restarted with a new structure.
Under the new structure, the Centre established two new offices: a general affairs office, and an office of the secretary general, as well as one operational department. It abolished divisions and created four clusters, which are a loosely connected group of related work programmes and subjects that function together, to respond to the key tasks. Two new clusters, Research and Policy Analysis (RPA) Cluster, and the Capacity Building (CB) Cluster, deal with new issues, and other two clusters, the Trade and Investment (TI) Cluster and the Tourism and Exchange (TE) Cluster, work on traditional areas of trade, investment, tourism and exchange activities.
The Centre has existed for 37 years, and will continue to do so with more interaction with its member states. I hope, with these reforms, you will find the Centre more useful in furthering partnerships between ASEAN and Japan. While seeking your continued guidance and support for the activities of the Centre, I also wish to send my warmest greetings and best wishes to you all for your happiness, good health and prosperity.