Excellency Ambassador Ishikawa,
And Excellencies from the ASEAN Member Countries,
Distinguished Guests and SSEAYP Alumni,
1 Good morning. I am pleased to join you today to commemorate the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. Indeed, we have come a long way. I am heartened that this event is centered around the youths from the Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme.
2 Singapore and Japan have enjoyed a long and close friendship since establishing ties in 1966. In many ways, and at various levels, our countries have become reliable partners over the last 57 years. Our partnership has been comprehensive, substantive and mutually supportive, including through challenging times such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
3 Our economic partnership continues to grow strength-to strength. Singapore was Japan’s top Asian investor and third largest source of Foreign Direct Investment stock in 2022. In the same year, Singapore was also Japan’s third largest investment destination in Asia.
4 Beyond trade, our countries have expanded cooperation in areas such as renewable energy, climate change and green development. My ministry, MSE (Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment) signed two Memoranda of Cooperation with the Japanese Ministries of (i) Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and (ii) Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to enhance collaboration in food security, agri-tech, climate science and climate adaptation. These partnerships will allow both sides to learn from each other and advance our respective goals of building a more sustainable future.
5 Last year, Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to deepen cooperation in long-term emissions reduction strategies and pathways.
6 At the regional level, Japan has been a steadfast partner to ASEAN for five decades. We are like-minded and committed in supporting ASEAN, and have deepened collaboration through ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.
7 Singapore has consistently supported Japan’s ASEAN initiatives, including:
Japan’s Strategic Partnership for ASEAN Climate and Environment (SPACE), which was recently launched in Vientiane at the ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Dialogue on Environmental Cooperation; and
just last week at the ASEAN-Japan Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the ASEAN-Japan Midori Cooperation Plan was also launched to enhance food security cooperation. So again, this shows a strong partnership.
8 At the international level, we also cooperate closely through key international platforms such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Maritime Organisation.
9 As we come together to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations this year, it is important to remember that trust and respect have been at the root of the ASEAN-Japan partnership. It is therefore apt to commemorate our partnership by planting trees, whose roots symbolise our strong and enduring partnership.
10 Besides that, the planting of trees is also very good for all of us, ASEAN, Japan, coming together in partnership to protect the environment and build a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generation.
11 I hope everyone of us, including the youths will be able to acknowledge the hard work it took to build this partnership, cherish it, and take it forward 50 years more and beyond.
12 With that, I wish everyone a very happy 50th Friendship and Cooperation Anniversary. Thank you again to SSEAYP for organising this. Thank you.