Japan and Southeast Asia Set to Co-Create an Interwoven Future
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Japan and Southeast Asia Set to Co-Create an Interwoven Future


APLN member Hoang Thi Ha co-writes a commentary with Pham Thi Phuong Thao. They argue that Japan’s decades of cultivating relations with Southeast Asia have not only strengthened their diplomatic and economic ties but also deepened interpersonal and societal interactions, ultimately shifting postwar animosity towards Japan into a prevailing positive sentiment today.

Decades of nurturing connections between Japan and Southeast Asia have deepened their cultural and social bonds, laying the foundation for a more balanced and mutually beneficial relationship. Now more than ever, these people-to-people connections also provide the ballast for Japan’s soft power, given that its economic influence has relatively declined with the rise of other competitors, especially China and South Korea. Recognising this, the ASEAN-Japan commemorative summit in 2023 agreed to further the “Heart-to-Heart Partners” and “Partners for Co-creation of Economy and Society of the Future” initiatives, alongside “Partners for Peace and Stability”. The “heart-to-heart” and “co-creation” themes underscore a shift in the relationship between Japan and Southeast Asia towards greater reciprocity and equality. This is because the region is now becoming a centre of global growth and offers a large pool of human talent, creativity and entrepreneurship that can synergise with Japan’s needs. The recently revised Development Cooperation Charter guiding Japan’s ODA also highlights the imperative for “co-creation” of social values and new solutions with developing countries, based on dialogue, cooperation and equal partnership. Of note, Japan aims to bring back these values and solutions to Japanese society with a hope to spur its economy. Among those values, one of key significance to both Southeast Asia and Japan is the acceptance of foreign workers and a multicultural and inclusive community. This forward-looking vision marks the beginning of an important shift in Japan’s perspective, as it recognises the significance of Southeast Asia in fostering mutual growth and collaboratively addressing new challenges to its evolving society.

The full article can be accessed here.

Image: 内閣官房内閣広報室, https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/101_kishida/actions/202211/12asean.html  

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