Japan To Pursue Econ Partnerships With Asian Neighbors: Koizumi

May 25, 2006

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Japan will continue to do its utmost to establish meaningful economic partnership agreements that promote development in all of Asia, said Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a speech Thursday.

In doing so, he indicated that Japan will accelerate its creation of such pacts with other Asian nations. The banquet where Koizumi spoke was part of the 12th Future of Asia conference sponsored by Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc.

In addition to free trade agreements, an economic partnership pact can include a comprehensive set of rules regarding the flow of people and goods, protection of intellectual property and measures to resolve conflicts.

Koizumi listed common issues that Asian nations face such as terrorism, protecting the environment and stable energy sources. "Cooperation within the region becomes imperative in order to be able to overcome these issues," said Koizumi, who indicated Japan's willingness to play a proactive role in Asia.

Referring to current conditions within East Asia, Koizumi said, "We overcame 20th century-end economic crises and have managed to achieve the most dynamic growth in the world."

He also pointed to the importance of economic ties by citing Japan's 56% trade ratio with the region.

"Our economic ties are even more solid than the North American Free Trade Agreement," according to Koizumi.

Japan has already inked economic partnership agreements with Singapore and Malaysia. It has established basic pacts with Thailand and the Philippines and will pursue negotiations with Indonesia and Vietnam.

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.