'Constructive ties between Japan and neighbours will benefit region'

Dr Balakrishnan (left) calling on Mr Abe in Tokyo yesterday. The two leaders discussed the important role that Japan plays in keeping the peace and stability in Asia.
Dr Balakrishnan (left) calling on Mr Abe in Tokyo yesterday. The two leaders discussed the important role that Japan plays in keeping the peace and stability in Asia.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SINGAPORE

Constructive, peaceful and cooperative ties between Japan and its neighbours will benefit the entire region, Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan agreed at a meeting yesterday morning.

Both leaders discussed the important role that Japan plays in keeping the peace and stability in Asia, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement last night.

Dr Balakrishnan, who is in Tokyo for a four-day introductory visit that ends tomorrow, affirmed Japan's strong engagement of South- east Asia and the wider region.

He also welcomed Japan's "proactive contribution to peace" security policy and the related laws, which would enable Japan to play a greater strategic role in the region within the framework of the United States-Japan security alliance, the statement said.

Today marks 50 years to the date diplomatic ties were established between Singapore and Japan, and both leaders yesterday reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral ties, underpinned by regular high-level exchanges, strong economic links and a common strategic outlook.

Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a separate statement that Mr Abe had conveyed his appreciation to Dr Balakrishnan for the sympathy messages sent by Singapore leaders as well as the Republic's offers to extend aid in the wake of the Kyushu earthquakes this month that killed about 50 people.

Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan also met Japanese Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa and members of the Japan-Singapore Parliamentary Friendship League, including its chairman Kenji Kosaka and Minister-in-charge of Economic Revitalisation Nobuteru Ishihara.

He also met Mr Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Mr Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief representative of the LDP's coalition partner Komeito.

He was then hosted by Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara to a welcome reception for the 11th Japan-Singapore Symposium.

Dr Balakrishnan will deliver a keynote address at the symposium this morning.

He will also meet other Japanese political and business leaders, including his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, during his trip.

Walter Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline ''Constructive ties between Japan and neighbours will benefit region''. Print Edition | Subscribe