Friday, July 26, 2013

Japan PM to talk Abenomics with M'sia, S'pore, Philippines

Fresh off his coalition's upper house victory, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is setting off on a three-nation tour on Thursday that will take him to Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

He is set to discuss Abenomics -- his economic revitalisation plan -- with the leaders of those countries, and meet US Vice President Joe Biden, who will also be visiting Singapore on Friday. Economics will be top of the agenda during Abe's tour.

According to Japan's foreign ministry, Abe wants to promote Japan's revitalisation by tapping on the ASEAN economies.

The three nations he is visiting are strong economies that offer good opportunities for collaboration with Japanese firms in areas such as high speed bullet trains, sewage and water systems.

Abe's first overseas trip was to Southeast Asia -- namely to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. He sent his Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso to Myanmar, and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to the Philippines and Singapore, which shows he places great importance on the region.

Japan hopes that Singapore will help its small and medium sized firms boost exports to developing countries such as China and India.

Besides business, some political watchers feel that this trip also highlights the strengthening of security ties.

Hideki Kato, president of Japan Initiative, said: "I think Mr Abe has great interest in foreign affairs and he is good at it. So there are ways he can rebuild ties. What's important is to focus on the present and to look ahead.

“It's the same towards South Korea, China and Southeast Asia. On the so-called understanding of history, it's an issue of perception, so I don't think that should be put on the table as a set."

Toshio Nagahisa, research fellow at PHP Institute, said: "He puts importance on East Asian countries. He visits these countries surrounding China to keep better relations and deepen better relations. That could be a good step to approach China, which has a dispute with Japan."

However, it is still unclear whether Abe will be able to hold his first bilateral summit with China or South Korea. - Channel News Asia

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