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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.