Transcript of PM Lee Hsien Loong’s Remarks at the Joint Press Conference with PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan
Thank you Prime Minister Abe, ladies and gentlemen. I am very happy to be here in Japan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. This is my ninth meeting with Prime Minister Abe since 2013.
I would like to express my appreciation for Japan’s invitation to President Tony Tan to make a State Visit to Japan in November. And I am very honoured to receive the posthumous award of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers on behalf of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Prime Minister Abe and I had a fruitful discussion on a wide range of issues. We reaffirmed our strong, multi-faceted and long-standing partnership. Singapore and Japan have close economic ties, strong people-to-people relations and we also cooperate to contribute to capacity building in third countries.
We were happy to witness the exchange of three Memorandum of Cooperation and Memorandums of Understanding just now. These agreements will strengthen cooperation in trade and investment, in urban development and in research and development (R&D). Prime Minister Abe and I agreed that we could do much more together.
As Prime Minister Abe pointed out, the MOUs contribute towards the areas of cooperation covered by our Japan-Singapore economic partnership agreements. I proposed to Prime Minister Abe that we should review the Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement (JSEPA) to bring it up to date because it needs to be kept in touch and fresh as conditions change, and as new agreements are made with other partners. We also agreed on a Vice Ministerial level committee in order to oversee and to discuss cooperation in transportation, land, sea and air.
On the Shinkansen, I told Mr Abe that it was absolutely Singapore’s wish to have the best technology for the high speed rail between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Japan had some of the best technology in the world when it comes to high speed rail and we are working with the Malaysian government to ensure a rigorous, objective and high standard process for tender in order to get the best possible train set for our high speed rail. Shinkansen’s long record of safety, reliability and excellence would stand it in good stead in the bid.
The committee will also be reviewing sea and air issues. On sea, we discussed liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering, and on air, we discussed air services. On air services, I pointed out that with 2020 Olympics coming up, this is a timely moment to start to increase capacity not only between Singapore and Japan but also beyond, to further destinations in both directions, in order to build up Singapore Changi and Tokyo Narita into hub airports, important in our respective regions. This is an issue which has been under discussion for some time and Prime Minster Abe agreed with me that we should accelerate discussions and progress on this matter.
We also discussed regional issues and strategic issues. Singapore welcomes Japan playing a more active role in the region. Singapore supports the Abe Administration’s “Proactive Contribution to Peace” policy, and the Peace and Security Legislation under the framework of the United States-Japan Security Alliance.
We discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is a strategically important trade agreement. I am encouraged that Japan’s Diet is discussing the TPP now and Mr Abe expressed confidence that he would get support for the TPP and it would pass.
Japan’s ratification is very important because Japan is the second largest economy in the TPP and the third largest economy in the world. We also hope that on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), there would be good progress made and Japan and Singapore will participate actively.
We also discussed the South China Sea. Singapore is a non-claimant state and does not take sides on the competing territorial claims. But we have key interests to protect. These include freedom of navigation and overflight, and also a rules-based regional and international order – an order that upholds and protects the rights and privileges of all states and shows full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in the resolution of disputes.
On the Korean issue, Singapore is deeply concerned by the series of recent provocations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We fully understand Japan’s continuing concerns over the longstanding abductee issue. DPRK’s behaviour threatens regional peace and stability, violates international norms and contravenes the United Nations Security Council resolutions. I hope good sense and counsel will prevail, and the DPRK will return to path of dialogue sooner rather than later.
I encourage Mr Abe and Japan to further deepen Japan’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The partnership with Japan is one of ASEAN’s most substantive cooperation partnerships. Finally, I would like to thank Prime Minister Abe for his leadership and attention to our bilateral friendship between Singapore and Japan. I am confident that we are heading in the right direction and our relationship will strengthen and mature further. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore