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The Future of Asia 2012

Noda Vows To Support Economic Bridge-Building In Asia

Friday, May 25, 2012

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Japan will seek to promote economic growth in Asia both in negotiations on joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and in talks on regional free trade agreements, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Thursday at a banquet attended by Asian political and business leaders.

Emerging-market growth is ushering in "the Asia-Pacific century," Noda said in a speech at the dinner for the Future of Asia conference organized by Nikkei Inc. and the Japan Center for Economic Research.

Over the next decade, as more than a billion Asians join the middle class, Asia "will no doubt become a giant engine driving the world economy," the prime minister said.

Economic partnerships are fundamental to growth, and all of the region's members must work hard to build "a shared basis for prosperity," Noda said, adding that Japan wants to take the lead in setting the rules for trade and investment.

Noda reaffirmed that Japan is ready to discuss joining the TPP and to pursue a three-way free trade deal with China and South Korea. The trio has agreed to start negotiations this year. Noda also said Japan will seek a broader free trade framework involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Stability, another prerequisite for prosperity in the region, depends on "the willingness to deal with friction in accordance with common rules," Noda said. He touched on the need for transportation and other infrastructure to facilitate the movement of people and goods in the region and offered support for Myanmar and South Asia.

Asian nations will face common problems like energy and aging in the next 10-20 years, Noda said. Japan provides a "looking glass" into the future and "will confront these challenges before any other country" in the region, according to Noda. Pointing to his government's efforts on social security reform, he said Japan could offer Asia "a model for a sustainable aging society."

(The Nikkei, May 25 morning edition)

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