via Video Conference, 9 September 2020

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Motegi-san... welcome to your first official ASEAN meeting. Welcome to the ASEAN Family.

First, allow me to begin by expressing our  appreciation to His Excellency Prime Minister Shinzo Abe… for his important role…

During the evacuation of the Indonesian nationals from Yokohama

The  pandemic  has  hit  both  ASEAN  and  Japan’s  economy  hard…  even harder than the Asian Financial Crisis.

There  is  no  other  option  for  us  but  to  work  together…  to  address  the pandemic and recover our economies.

I welcome the adoption of the ASEAN  –  Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan…which sets out concrete measures in mitigating the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the economy.

Today… our task is to turn this plan into reality.

Japan is  the  ASEAN’s  second largest  investor… It is also ASEAN’s fourth largest  trading partner. Our businesses linkages and regional supply chain are highly interdependent.

Therefore… ensuring continuity of business interactions will be crucial in our efforts  to  recover  the  regional  economy.  This  can  be  done… through  the establishment  of  essential  business  corridors  in  line  with  strict  health protocols.

Third…  ASEAN  –  Japan  cooperation  must  be  more  robust  in  mitigating Covid-19.

I  appreciate Japan’s commitment to support the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund. And at the same time… we have the modalities and capacity to  expand our collaboration further in health sectors.

In  the  short  term…  we  can  focus  on  ensuring  adequacy  of  essential medicines  and  bolstering  coordination  mechanisms  on  research  and development of medicines and vaccines for Covid-19.

In line with the Action Plan… we must encourage public-private collaboration to explore potential cooperation on health-related industries.

In the long term… we must continue our collaboration in  building regional health resilience and preparedness for future pandemic situation.

I  look  forward  for  a  positive  outcome  on  the  feasibility  study  on  the establishment  of  the  ASEAN  Centre  for  Public  Health  Emergencies  and Emerging Diseases.

My  last  point  I’m  sure  that Japan  and  ASEAN will continue  to  strengthen cooperation to make our region stable and peaceful amidst this fluid situation and tension… including through Indo-Pacific cooperation so looking forward to seeing your active role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

I thank you very much.