Ambassador's Letter (December, 2010)


As the year draws to an end, Singapore, the land of everlasting summer joins in the busy mood of wrapping up the year. Now, looking back at this year’s Japanese diplomacy, the one important event that I would like to briefly introduce about is the November Yokohama APEC. Also, I will, in my subsequent letters, share with you the goings-on in Japanese diplomacy, so that you may have a wide understanding of it.

APEC Japan 2010 Economic Leaders’ Meeting: Leaders Adopt “The Yokohama Vision” Laying the Path for the Future of APEC

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and many other officials for joining the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting held in Yokohama between November 13 and 14, 2010. During the meeting, the Leaders discussed the themes of regional economic integration, growth strategy, human security, and the future of the Asia-Pacific region. Based on these discussions, the Leaders’ Declaration, “The Yokohama Vision – Bogor and Beyond,” was adopted. The Vision lays out paths toward APEC becoming a more “economically-integrated community” that promotes stronger and deeper regional economic integration, a more “robust community” with a higher quality of growth, and a more “secure community” that provides a more secure economic environment. This is the first time that the concept of “community” is defined clearly, and Leaders share the recognition that APEC is entering a new stage.

Specifically, Leaders endorsed the Report on APEC’s 2010 Economies’ Progress Towards the Bogor Goals, and agreed to take concrete steps toward the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in order to further promote regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, thereby achieving a more “Economically-integrated community.” To this end, Leaders confirmed that an FTAAP should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement by developing and building on ongoing regional undertakings, such as ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), among others. Japan takes pride that this is a significant result that brings qualitative change to FTAAP from long-term and aspirational to a more concrete vision. In addition, they formulated the first comprehensive and long-term growth strategy for the Asia-Pacific region, the APEC Leaders’ Growth Strategy, to be implemented toward 2015 with the aim of realizing a more “robust community.” I think this growth strategy is revolutionary for APEC as it includes a concrete vision for a wide range of issues such as domestic reforms and social matters with review in the future. Leaders also agreed to safeguard human security through an initiative to build a more “secure community,” focusing on food security, disaster management, infectious disease preparedness, anti-corruption, and counter-terrorism efforts, etc.During the meeting, Mr. Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan, exerted leadership as the Chair, making clear his determination for the further “opening” of Japan. He stated that Japan would pursue additional liberalization of its economy to support the efforts of APEC members for regional economic integration. In doing so, he sent a forward-looking message conveying Japan’s intent to move toward growth together with the world, including the Asia-Pacific region, which has demonstrated remarkable economic development. The stance of Japan was of great significance as APEC members worked to concretely set the course of action toward the realization of a FTAAP.

In particular, as Prime Minister Lee mentioned in a recent meeting with Prime Minister Kan, I understand that Singapore strongly supports Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiation. I would much appreciate it if we could continuously consult with the Singapore government on this matter. As you are aware, Japan will develop a basic policy on promoting the revitalization of the food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries around June 2011, and draw up an action plan with a medium and long-term perspective around October 2011. These timings would be important points to consider with regard to Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiation.

As noted above, I surmise we could achieve a lot of valuable results in APEC Japan 2010. We owe it to Singapore’s great effort in indicating the basic direction last year and handing over the Chair to Japan smoothly. Going forward, APEC members will take concrete steps to realize “The Yokohama Vision.” The Vision, announced this year, will be passed on to the next APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in the United States, where it is expected that the Vision will take on an even clearer shape and bring about intended results.

Please be assured that I will continue to provide you with useful information, and if you should have any comments about this letter, I would appreciate it if you could share them with me. Also I would like to ask your kind understandings and support to our activities.

Lastly, I would like to wish you and your family a very auspicious and prosperous new year.

Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary of Japan to
the Republic of Singapore