Mekong-Japan cooperation lifted to strategic partnership

Tuesday, 2018-10-09 17:40:30
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The 10th Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting takes place in Tokyo on October 9. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO/VNA – The leaders of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries and Japan decided to lift the two sides’ cooperation to a strategic partnership at the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting in Tokyo on October 9.

The event, chaired by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was attended by Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Cambodian PM Hun Sen, Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith, Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, and Myanmar State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The leaders reviewed their cooperation over the past few years, discussed major orientations for cooperation in the future, and exchanged views on a number of international and regional issues.

They shared the view that, in the 10 years since its foundation, Mekong-Japan cooperation has recorded many achievements in line with the set directions, which are building a GMS of long-term peace and stability, developing the economy and actively contributing to ASEAN integration, sustainable development through regular high-level meetings, discussions on cooperation at all levels, and the implementation of concrete projects in specialised fields in each period.

Regarding the New Tokyo Strategy 2015 for 2016-2018, they welcomed the implementation of hundreds of projects in multiple areas, helping to improve infrastructure connectivity and promote economic – industrial cohesion and people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the Mekong region.

The GMS leaders appreciated Japan’s provision of over JPY750 billion in assistance for 2016-2018.

Agreeing to lift the Mekong-Japan cooperation to the strategic partnership, the two sides said that future cooperation will focus on three main pillars, namely vibrant and effective connectivity, people-centred society, and cooperation in healthcare, education and justice.

The summit agreed to organise the Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2019 to enhance understanding and exchanges among people of the GMS countries and Japan. They also agreed to realise a “green Mekong”, focusing on fostering collaboration with international and regional organisations, especially the Mekong River Commission, in managing and sustainably using Mekong water resources. The countries will work together to cope with climate change, reduce, treat and recycle waste, and preserve and sustainably use fishery resources.

At the event, the participants also talked about many global and regional affairs, including the East Sea and Korean Peninsula issues. They reaffirmed the common pledge to maintain and promote peace, security and stability in the region, while resolving disputes by peaceful means, including fully respecting legal and diplomatic processes and not threatening or using force, in accordance with the widely recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Speaking at the meeting, PM Phuc emphasised the role of and contributions by the Mekong-Japan cooperation to the realisation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and to regional peace, stability and development. Mekong-Japan cooperation projects have helped provide considerable changes to infrastructure, human resources development and environmental protection in the GMS nations.

He also affirmed Vietnam’s commitment to continue to work closely with Japan and the other GMS members to promote cooperation.

Suggesting cooperation directions for the future, the PM said the two sides should step up transport connectivity, including the Vientiane-Hanoi Expressway and waterway transport between Vietnam and Cambodia, and energy connectivity within the GMS region, as well as between the region and non-GMS countries.

He suggested improving soft infrastructure connectivity, while building and implementing agreements and coordination mechanisms on facilitating transport and trade and digital connectivity among the member nations. The countries should also boost industrial connectivity and prioritise the development of supporting industries, increase people-to-people connectivity, especially through education and training, and sign agreements on the mutual recognition of vocational training diplomas and certificates.

They also need to realise the joint vision on a green Mekong with a focus on cooperation in sustainably managing water resources, protecting the environment, responding to climate change, and developing smart and sustainable agriculture, he added.

PM Phuc recommended that a Mekong-Japan innovation network should be set up to foster connectivity and exchanges among the research, invention and start-up centres of Japan and the GMS countries.

The summit highly valued and reflected on the Vietnamese leader’s proposals in its documents.

In terms of global and regional issues, PM Phuc welcomed the positive outcomes of the bilateral summits between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the US and the Republic of Korea. He voiced his support for the denuclearisation of the whole Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and in line with resolutions of the UN Security Council.

He asserted that Vietnam will keep coordinating with Japan and the international community to solve humanitarian issues, including abductions, condemning the kidnapping of citizens between countries.

With regard to the East Sea issue, he recognised some positive improvements in the negotiations but also voiced his concern over the fact that complex developments remain in the waters. He stressed the urgency of ensuring peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation over the East Sea, calling for adherence to the 1982 UNCLOS, the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and the prompt finalisation of an efficient and effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea.

At the end of the meeting, the leaders adopted the Tokyo Strategy 2018 for Mekong-Japan Cooperation in the 2019-2021 period.