To the success of Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020

Update: 12:30 | 08/08/2020
TGVN. Incidentally, I attended the ASEAN related Summit meetings held in Ha Noi in October 2010 as Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN, and was very much impressed with Vietnam’s visionary chairmanship.
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Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung (right) received Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam Takio Yamada. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

In December 1995, at the ASEAN Summit meeting held in Thailand which Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet attended representing his nation, Vietnam was formally admitted to ASEAN. This development, together with the normalization of her diplomatic ties with the US in July 1995, highlighted Vietnam’s full return to the international community and the end of the prolonged disturbances in the region in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Vietnam’s admission to ASEAN was the first among the so-called CLMV countries, and Japan whole-heartedly welcomed this historic development.

Thereafter, the history of the region for the past 25 years could be described as the era of Vietnam’s advancement in various dimensions of regional affairs. Vietnam initially took an active role as a leading nation of the so-called CLMV countries to reduce the development gap among the ASEAN member countries. With the steady rise of its economic and diplomatic profile, Vietnam began to make greater contributions to other economic, social and political issues of the region, and thus assumed the chairmanship of ASEAN for the first time in 2010. Incidentally, I attended the ASEAN related Summit meetings held in Ha Noi in October 2010 as Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN, and was very much impressed with Vietnam’s visionary chairmanship.

Since its 2010 chairmanship, Vietnam has received even greater attention as an emerging player of ASEAN cooperation due to its rapid economic development and proactive initiatives for various regional challenges including those concerning the South China Sea. It is my great honor and fortune that I have come back to Vietnam as Japan’s bilateral ambassador this year, when Vietnam once again takes up the chair of ASEAN under the annual theme of “Cohesive and Responsive”.

ASEAN now faces an array of challenges, including the crisis caused by the spread of the COVID-19 infection, which is a top priority for every country in the region and the world. Japan is ready to provide full support for ASEAN’s efforts to address this crisis including the establishment of the ASEAN Center for public health emergencies and emerging disease (known also as the “ASEAN CDC”). Japan has already begun a feasibility study on the Center to identify the best option for the region, and is ready to provide strong support for the Center as a flagship project of the Japan and ASEAN partnership.

Economic recovery of the region from the COVID-19 crisis is another major agenda to be discussed at this year’s ASEAN meetings. We need to discuss various important issues including trade and investment as well as the resilience of the global and regional supply chain.

On the political aspect, Japan welcomes ASEAN’s adoption of the AOIP (ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific), and fully supports its implementation, seeking for synergy between the AOIP and Japan’s initiative, the ‘FOIP’ (Free and Open Indo-Pacific), which also covers similar agendas, such as freedom of navigation and peaceful settlement of disputes based on international law. Furthermore, Japan wishes to have active discussions on the South China Sea and North Korea in various ASEAN forums this year including the East Asia Summit.

The year 2020 marks the 5th anniversary of the launching of the ASEAN Community, and is the year of the mid-term review on the “ASEAN Community Vision 2025”. Japan hopes that good progress will be achieved on this important ASEAN agenda.

As argued above, the ASEAN process of 2020 needs to deal with extremely heavy agendas and responsibilities. Hence, I believe that it is fortunate that Vietnam assumes the chairmanship at this critical year to bring its vision and dynamism to ASEAN. Japan, as the dearest friend of Vietnam, is ready to extend our fullest support to help Vietnam achieve success in its chairmanship.

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Takio Yamada

Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam