HANOI, Vietnam Japan highly values the central role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in promoting peace and stability in the region and the world, Japanese Ambassador to Singapore Kenji Shinoda said at a recent workshop in Singapore, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

He described ASEAN as an important partner of Japan over the past 45 years since they established relations in 1973, only six years after the foundation of the bloc.

The diplomat said Japan will continue promoting the central role of ASEAN and work with the association to maintain regional stability and prosperity.

Japan is the third biggest trade partner of ASEAN and the second largest direct investor in the bloc.

Professor Pham Quang Minh, Rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Vietnam National University, emphasized the crucial role of Japan in cooperation of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), including five ASEAN member nations namely Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Infrastructure is the first demand of GMS countries. Therefore, the best way Japan can help them is to complete building the 1,500-km East-West economic corridor linking India with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, he said.

This would not only contribute to narrowing development gaps between countries in the region but also in expanding extra-bloc cooperation, he added.

Established in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: NAM News Network