Leaders At Asia Forum Urge Boosting Of Regional Cooperation

May 26, 2008

Fukuda urges Asia-wide system to respond to large-scale emergencies, disease outbreaks

Key figures from Asia's political, academic and business worlds called for greater regional cooperation in economy and environment at "The Future of Asia" forum, held May 22-23 in Tokyo.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi described harsh situations for East Asia, citing the recent devastating cyclone in Myanmar and the catastrophic earthquake in China.

Also, higher crude-oil and food prices are seriously affecting ordinary people around the region. To address the issue of soaring food prices, he called for the ASEAN plus Japan, China and South Korea to cooperate in stockpiling rice.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suwit Khunkitti proposed that Asian countries "consider establishing a network of standby arrangements for disaster relief operations" to prepare for natural disasters like the cyclone. Suwit said that under the proposed multinational arrangement, countries should share "checklists for relief operation supplies and equipment."

The deputy premier also called on Asian nations to seek solutions to such problems as soaring prices of food and crude oil, which directly affect the everyday lives of ordinary people. He specifically called for intensified efforts to explore alternative and renewable energy sources as well as greater investment in agricultural infrastructure.

Emissions goal

At a panel discussion on environmental issues, Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita indicated that Japan may consider a specific medium-term goal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by around 2020-2030.

South Korean Environment Minister Lee Maan-ee, who participated in the discussion, called on Japan to help train experts in energy-saving technology. Another panelist, Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, called on industrialized nations to accelerate their efforts to transfer energy-saving technology.

Meanwhile, in a dialogue with Vietnamese Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari said, "By lending support to, and getting involved in, efforts to resolve environmental and energy issues in the ASEAN nations, Japan can lift its own economy."

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.

The 14th annual conference was held under the theme: "Asia's Role: in Pursuit of Global Coexistence."

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