21/04/2024 10:50 AM

By Christine Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 (Bernama) -- Japan looks to forge a closer relationship with Malaysia in line with a new chapter of the Look East Policy (LEP) based on the current economic and social situation.

Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Katsuhiko Takahashi said while the LEP has made a significant contribution to shaping the Malaysian automotive industry, there is now a need to move into new emerging industries, such as healthcare for the ageing society and disaster prevention, in which Japan has the expertise.

“The LEP started 42 years ago with the sending of students and trainees to Japan to bring back their know-how and expertise from Japan to be implemented in Malaysia for economic development.

“This relationship was created based on the exchange of people and has become a strong foundation for the Japan-Malaysia relationship.

“Now, we are looking at new economic areas for Japan to further collaborate which include cyber security, information technology, resilience of supply chain and energy transition," he said in an interview with Bernama.

He elaborated that Japan is also keen to enhance cooperation in artificial intelligence, robotics and green technology, as well as technology that addresses climate change.

According to Takahashi, the policy will also need to move in line with recent developments in the Malaysian economy, which has experienced remarkable growth.

“We can now work as a partner on equal footing in both the public and private sectors,” he said.

He stressed that this is also in line with the elevation of the strong bilateral relations of both countries to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) that was announced in December last year during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to Japan.

The CSP, he noted, covers a wider range of issues that include peace and security cooperation, economic prosperity, science, technology, innovation and environment, society, cultural and people-to-people exchange, as well as regional and global cooperation.

Takahashi described the bilateral relations between Japan and Malaysia as a big river that flows and expands smoothly, premised on 67 years of diplomatic and economic ties that can be developed wider and deeper to benefit both nations.

“Since the Malaysian independence, we have (established) good relations, and the cooperation through Asean and enhancing relations through the LEP have contributed a lot in strengthening the Japan-Malaysia relationship," he said.


Cooperation through Asean and Regional Initiatives

Takahashi said this is because Japan fully supports Asean initiatives as espoused during the 50th year of the Asean-Japan Friendship Cooperation celebration last year in four areas under the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) framework. 

The AOIP is an Asean initiative to promote collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region and covers cooperation in maritime, connectivity, United Nations Sustainable Goals 2030 and economic as well as other possible areas of cooperation.

“For Malaysia and Japan, our common areas are that we are maritime nations, surrounded by the sea and prosper through free trade and the rule of law, and therefore we are looking forward to enhancing collaboration in these areas as well as security in the region,” according to Takahashi.

Malaysia and Japan have established economic partnerships via the Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, Malaysia’s first comprehensive trade agreement that came into force on July 13, 2006.

Subsequently, the Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement came into force for Malaysia on Feb 1, 2009, and includes market access through lower tariff concessions and rules of origin.

Similarly, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity initiatives also enhance regional economic cooperation for both countries.

“Japan and Malaysia can also cooperate together to provide development assistance to other countries that need assistance like Afghanistan, any country in Africa, or Palestine,” he said. 


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