Japan to deepen ties with S'pore & ASEAN

SINGAPORE: Singapore and Japan are set to deepen bilateral ties and economic cooperation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he intends to promote strategic diplomacy and give particular importance to Japan's relationship with ASEAN countries, including Singapore.

Mr Abe, who is in Singapore for his first official visit, was given a welcome ceremony at the Istana on Friday morning.

He also called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Abe's visit to Singapore is the first by a Japanese Prime Minister in over 11 years.

Both Mr Abe and Mr Lee reaffirmed the excellent Singapore-Japan ties.

Mr Lee said both countries are discussing enhancing the air services agreement.

Singapore also hopes to undertake more joint projects with Japan and third countries, such as building an industrial township in Chennai.

Views on regional developments were exchanged, given hotspots such as the Korean peninsula and overlapping territorial disputes and issues.

Mr Lee said he hopes that the countries concerned will manage differences peacefully and in accordance with international law.

He added that a stable Asia enables each of the countries to grow and prosper in peace.

Mr Lee said Singapore welcomes Japan's participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), which are pathways to free trade in Asia Pacific.

Mr Lee said he is looking forward to good agreements emerging from both negotiations which will benefit all parties.

Mr Lee is also confident Mr Abe will use the strong mandate received in the recent Japanese Upper House elections to revitalise the Japanese economy.

Mr Lee said: "On Mr Abe visiting Singapore and ASEAN so soon after the elections, we think it is a very good sign. We are very happy to develop the relationship and we think our ASEAN partners will also be very eager to do so.

He added: “And it is a good preparation in the run-up to our commemorative summit to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan relations which will be held in Tokyo in December."

Mr Abe said Japan and Singapore will promote cooperation such as in the export of infrastructure system.

He noted that Mr Lee has also showed interest in Singapore making more investments in Japan.

Mr Abe said: "I do sincerely hope that my visit at this time, and also my summit meeting with Prime Minister Lee will renew the impetus so that we will be able to strengthen our cooperation. We will be able to further collaborate for the sake of regional stability and prosperity."

Mr Abe said he aims to step up cooperation with countries which share its fundamental values such as the rule of law and the promotion of greater economic partnerships. - CNA/fa