Japan-ASEAN Ties Would Be At Heart Of Asian Bloc: Trade Minister

May 22, 2008

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Cooperation between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is crucial to the envisioned Asian economic and environmental community, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari suggested Thursday.

"By lending support to, and getting involved in, efforts to resolve environmental and energy issues, Japan can lift its own economy," Amari said in a dialogue with Vietnamese Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang at Nikkei Inc.'s Future of Asia forum.

The Japanese government is expected to propose the Asian economic and environmental community as part of the nation's growth strategy to be mapped out next month.

Referring to a recent agreement with Vietnam to cooperate in nuclear power development, Amari said Japan's energy conservation technologies are world-class. The nation can make big contributions in easing power supply concerns and in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said.

In a post-session interview with The Nikkei, Hoang expressed hopes that an economic partnership agreement will be signed soon.

"With a few issues left unresolved, now comes the time to make a political decision," Hoang said, urging Japan to open up its labor market to nurses and caregivers from Vietnam.

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