January 1, 2018
The ASEAN-Japan Centre was established in 1981 with an agreement between the Governments of the ASEAN Member States and Japan to embody the Fukuda Doctrine (1977), which emphasized the “heart-to-heart relations” and “equal partnership” between the two parties. It has been working to strengthen economic partnership between the ASEAN Member States and Japan in trade, investment and tourism, as well as exchanges of persons through organizing seminars, workshops and capacity-building programs, research and policy analysis, cultural events, publications and information services, among others.
ASEAN marked its 50th anniversary last year. Since its establishment in 1967, it has achieved remarkable economic growth, which caused an economic rebalancing between the ASEAN Member States and Japan. In fact, the ASEAN Member States have experienced the annual economic growth rate of around 8% during 1990 to 2016. The GDP of the ten ASEAN Member States combined, which was one tenth of that of Japan in 1980s, has expanded to nearly half of Japan’s. As for the ASEAN-Japan relations in the area of trade, investment and tourism, statistics have shown a relative decline of Japan’s presence in ASEAN, although its importance has still remained high. Meanwhile, the increasing presence of the ASEAN Member States in Japan has grown unabated.
The year 2017 was a special year for the Centre as it also marked the 40th Anniversary of the Fukuda Doctrine, the principle behind the background of the Centre’s establishment. As “equal partnership” between the ASEAN Member States and Japan is becoming a reality and now taking on significance ever, the Centre is expected to play a new role to further enhance the ASEAN-Japan relations, and is required 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 committing myself to its administrative as well as operational reforms to make it more relevant, efficient, effective and impactful. Now, the Centre is implementing result-based programs throughout, and has mainstreamed into all its activities the concept of sustainable development, which has become the basis for the global development paradigm after adoption of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” by the United Nations in September 2015. It attaches more importance to capacity-building and policy-orientation when formulating projects and has introduced elements on research and policy analysis into its activities, providing policy recommendations for the ASEAN Member States. Also, making its activities ahead of the curve and demand-driven, it has engaged in the new areas such as the global value chains, services trade and non-equity forms of trade, among others. Through these activities, we wish to contribute to further development of the ASEAN Member States and Japan as well as their deepened relations.
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 in 2018.