By Anna Leah Gonzales

STRENGTHENED COOPERATION. Representing the permanent country coordinator for ASEAN-Japan Economic Relations, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., emphasizes the country’s commitment to both economic growth and building an inclusive, future-ready society on Sunday (Dec. 17, 2023). He underscored Japan’s pivotal role in shaping ASEAN’s future, highlighting enhanced trade ties and shared efforts toward sustainability. (Photo courtesy of Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan on Sunday vowed to uphold international law, including the United Nations (UN) Charter and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and to increase maritime cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a statement, the Presidential Communications Office said ASEAN and Japan voted Sunday to adopt the Implementation Plan of the Joint Vision Statement during the 50th ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation Commemorative Summit in Tokyo.

The ASEAN and Japan agreed to support the Political and Security Community towards the realization of Community Vision 2025 and strengthened cooperation in the field of law and justice.

Included in the implementation plan are strengthening dialogue and cooperation for the maintenance of maritime security and safety, maritime order based on the rule of law (including freedom and safety of navigation and overflight and unimpeded commerce), enhancing maritime domain awareness, and cooperation among coast guards and relevant law enforcement agencies.

The plan also includes strengthened cooperation on maritime capacity building and initiatives to ensure the resolution of disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to threat or use of force as guided by international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

Part of the plan are enhancing defense cooperation and exchanges through the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, other ASEAN-led frameworks, and ASEAN-Japan initiatives, as well as exploring further ASEAN-wide cooperation, such as capacity-building cooperation, defense equipment and technology cooperation, joint training and exercises, and human resource development and academic exchanges.

There are also measures to facilitate nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy under regional and international instruments.

The parties agreed to further strengthen cooperation on combating terrorism and transnational crimes such as terrorism financing, cybercrime, money laundering, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, piracy and armed robbery against ships, trafficking in persons and online and phone scams, in accordance with the ASEAN-Japan Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat Terrorism and Transnational Crime and the SOMTC-Japan Work Plan on Cooperation to Combat Transnational Crime (2023-2027).

They consented to explore ways to enhance cooperation in cybersecurity, strengthen regional cyber policy coordination, intensify trust in cyberspace and regional capacity building through the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity mechanism, and other measures.

The Implementation Plan aims to further strengthen cooperation in the four priority areas of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, such as maritime cooperation, connectivity, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and economic and other possible areas of cooperation. (PNA)