January 14, 2014
JICA co-hosted a special symposium “ASEAN 2025 - Vision and Challenges for ASEAN in the Future,” on Dec. 13, 2013 with Nikkei Inc. in Tokyo.
The symposium was held to coincide with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Commemorative Summit for the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN-Japan relations. Attendees included some 200 people mainly involved in Japanese enterprises that have a presence in ASEAN, and for them the symposium became a prime opportunity to exchange views with key figures from ASEAN.
In his address at the opening of the meeting, President Akihiko Tanaka said that development and stabilization of ASEAN is crucial for Japan as well, and that overcoming the issues within ASEAN as well as achieving growth and stability are also important for Japan. He expressed his hope for the discussions at this symposium to be used to build a better relationship between ASEAN and Japan.
It was followed by a speech by Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara, who said, “ASEAN has become the driving force to lead the world economy, and Japan is eager to contribute to its growth. Also, it is highly important to develop a win-win relationship for the future of Japan and ASEAN.”
Secretary General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh said in his keynote speech, “In the course of its growth, ASEAN has been facing challenges such as narrowing the development gap among member countries and establishing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In order to firmly achieve them, we need the experience and perception of Japan.”
From left, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara, Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation Le Luong Minh and JICA President Akihiko Tanaka.
Based on an interim report entitled "Study on ASEAN 2025" implemented by JICA, the symposium was divided into two parts: a discussion between key figures and a panel discussion.
The first part, entitled “View of ASEAN Economic Community in 2025,” was moderated by Megumi Muto, deputy director general of the Southeast Asia and Pacific Department of JICA. Participating as commentators were Porametee Vimolsiri, deputy secretary general from the National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand, Paderanga Cayetano, chairman of the board of trustees from the Academy of the Philippines (the former director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority) and Shujiro Urata, professor of the Waseda University Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (senior research advisor for the Executive Director of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia [ERIA]).
Akifumi Kuchiki, the chief researcher of the JICA research team and a professor of the Department of International Development Studies, College of Bioresource Sciences, Nihon University, gave an interim explanation of the study. The study analyzed each key sector (*1) with regard to the ASEAN situation 10 years from the establishment of the AEC in 2015, to draw the most realistic future position of ASEAN as well as to extract agendas ASEAN needs to respond to in the future. He then suggested various measures that should be taken by its development partners, including JICA.
Porametee refereed to the importance of coordinating different institutions, in addition to movement toward the removal of tariffs promoted in the AEC. Paderanga pointed out the need for comprehensive growth and response to environmental issues and natural disasters. He also mentioned the difficulty of recognizing intra-ASEAN challenges as the challenges of each country.
Urata said, “Capacity enhancement within each country and the ASEAN Secretariat is a continuous agenda,” and on the study, added, “For further improvement, it is recommended that the study also include such content as measures for redressing disparities, and the relationship with surrounding countries that have influence on ASEAN.”
From left, Megumi Muto, Akifumi Kuchiki, Porametee Vimolsiri, Paderanga Cayetano and Shujiro Urata
In the second part, a panel discussion was held. Called "Views of Future ASEAN and Japan," it was moderated by Fukunari Kimura, a professor at the Faculty of Economics, Keio University (chief economist, ERIA). Sofjan Wanandi, chairman of the Employers’ Association of Indonesia (APINDO); Hiroyuki Yanagi, president of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.; and Om Romny, director of the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, participated as panelists.
Wanandi analyzed economic challenges particular to ASEAN overall and Indonesia from a private enterprise point of view, and proposed further investment into infrastructure development by the Japanese government and private enterprises, especially to make Indonesia a hub of the manufacturing industry.
Yanagi talked about the potential of ASEAN as an emerging consuming market, and Yamaha’s business and human resource development in ASEAN and in India. Then he said, “Promotion of the AEC, such AEC policies on taxation reform and protection of intellectual property, is recommended.”
Romny cited AUN/SEED-NET (*2) as an example of efforts by JICA and ASEAN in the higher-education field, and emphasized that for CLMV (*3) that acceded into ASEAN later than other countries, human resource development for industry and the collaboration between industry and universities are important.
In his closing remarks, Hidetoshi Irigaki, director general of JICA's Southeast Asia and Pacific Department, concluded, “Based on the discussions today, JICA will continue to assist with regional challenges within ASEAN, in addition to supporting infrastructure development and institution building tailored to the development needs in each country.”
The outcome of the symposium will be reflected in JICA’s ongoing study and the final report is scheduled to become available in early 2014.
(*1) The macro economy, industrial structure, trade, investment, resources (food, energy, etc.), demographics (aging, death rate, etc.), working environment (employment, education, etc.), transportation (infrastructure, logistics, etc.)
(*2) ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network. It was established with the initiative of the Japanese government in April 2001 to promote human resource development in engineering to support sustainable economic development in ASEAN countries. It comprises 26 engineering universities from 10 ASEAN countries and 14 Japanese universities.
(*3) Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam. They acceded to ASEAN later than the six original countries, and narrowing the development gap with these countries is an ongoing agenda.
From left, Fukunari Kimura, Sofjan Wanandi, Hiroyuki Yanagi and Om Romny.