TOKYO, Oct 27 (KUNA) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday vowed to strengthen Japan's cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported.
The bloc's online summit, virtually hosted by Brunei amid the coronavirus pandemic, is the first occasion for Kishida to participate in an ASEAN meeting after becoming prime minister earlier this month.
Kishida said at the outset of the meeting that he continues to value the relationship, noting his past efforts to enhance Japan's ties with ASEAN during his tenure as foreign minister between 2012 and 2017.
"This time, as prime minister, I will closely work with ASEAN and strongly promote efforts toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific," Kishida stated.
He also said Japan will steadily promote cooperation for the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific, an initiative aimed at maintaining peace, freedom, and prosperity in the region, and shares the same values as Japan's vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to the report.
As 2023 marks the 50th year of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation, Kishida said Japan plans to hold a special summit at that time to take the relationship to a "new stage."
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes 10 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (end)