News / Asia

Japanese Prime Minister Ends Southeast Asia Visit

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, poses with his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra for photographers at the end of a news conference at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, January 17, 2013.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, poses with his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra for photographers at the end of a news conference at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, January 17, 2013.
Ron Corben
— Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ended a three-nation tour of South East Asia this week aimed at building closer ties through increased investment and development. In Bangkok, Abe discussed joint cooperation in development projects in Burma.

This was the first visit to Thailand in over a decade by a Japanese leader. At a joint appearance with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Abe called on Thailand to take a leading role in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Japanese prime minister said there are major strategic changes under way in Asia and the Pacific region, and he looked to cooperation with Thailand to solve problems with the support of ASEAN integration.
 
Japan is Thailand’s largest trading partner with foreign direct investment of around $10 billion focused on automotive, computer and information technology manufacturing.
 
Japanese businesses had to reinvest billions of dollars into Thailand after major industry sectors were hit by the 2011 floods.
 
Optimism

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra spoke of her optimism over Japan’s economic expansion as well as new liberalized bilateral trade that should allow more Thai agricultural exports.
 
Yingluck said Japan expressed interest in development of Thai transport and flood prevention infrastructure  - including a high speed train as well as joint cooperation with Burma to develop the Dawei industrial region.
 
Thailand is looking to Japan as a key source of funds for a project that was first planned almost a decade ago when the prime minister's brother, deposed leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, was in power.
 
Sihasak Phuangketkeow, permanent secretary for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says Japan’s renewed engagement with the 10-member ASEAN is important.
 
“That fact that [Mr. Abe] chose three ASEAN including Thailand I think shows the importance Japan attaches to ASEAN as a whole," he said. "But is also comes at a time where I think you know we wish to see this region enjoying progress and prosperity, so Japan’s role is very important to the economic development of the region.”
 
Japanese officials say a strengthening of ties with ASEAN is based on what they termed a “changing strategic environment” in the region with Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia seen as a “growth center” in the global economy.
 
Closer partnerships


In meetings with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and later Friday with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Abe covered issues of closer partnerships in security and political areas.  
 
He cut his visit to Jakarta short Friday to return to Japan to deal with the hostage crisis involving some Japanese nationals in Algeria.
 
Analysts say Abe's foreign policy strategy is geared towards offsetting growing tensions with China, especially over conflicts in the East China Sea where the two countries are in dispute over a region seen as potentially rich in oil and gas.
 
China also has conflicts in the South China Sea where Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia challenge China’s claim over the region, also potentially rich in energy reserves.
 
Abe’s trip to the region drew harsh commentaries in Chinese state-backed media, where it is seen as part of a strategy to contain China.  The official China Daily in a report Friday called Abe’s diplomatic policy to strengthen ties with ASEAN as a “doctrine that will escalate regional tensions.”
 
Japan’s trade with China has fallen, since the East China Sea dispute erupted, due to boycotts and nationalist protests in China to Japanese products leading Japan’s.
 
Thai officials said Japan hopes Thailand, as the country coordinating ASEAN-China relations in the near term, will be able to work towards a settlement in the disputed claims in the South China Sea.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid