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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid