Singapore, Japan foreign ministers reaffirm ties on 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (left) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, on April 26, 2016.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (left) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, on April 26, 2016. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan was hosted to dinner by his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, on Tuesday evening during his introductory visit to Japan.

Both ministers reaffirmed bilateral ties during dinner on Tuesday (April 26) - exactly 50 years to the date diplomatic ties were established between the two countries.

They expressed satisfaction with Singapore and Japan's close cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and the Japan-Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century, through which both countries provide technical assistance to developing nations.

Both also agreed that more could be done to enhance bilateral relations, including a substantive review of the Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement.

While discussing Japan's engagement of Asean and South-east Asia, Dr Balakrishnan expressed support for Japan's efforts to play a more proactive role in the region, and welcomed the recent improvement of relations between Japan and its neighbours.

Earlier on Tuesday, Dr Balakrishnan delivered the keynote address at the 11th Japan-Singapore Symposium open forum, where he highlighted the importance for both countries to further deepen and broaden their close cooperation.

He also reiterated Singapore's support for Japan's Proactive Contribution to Peace policy and the related legislation, which would enable Japan to play a greater strategic role in the region within the framework of the US-Japan Security Alliance.

The two countries take turns to host the biennial symposium, which was launched in 1994 by then Prime Ministers Goh Chok Tong and Tomiichi Murayama. Both countries announced on Tuesday that the symposium will become an annual dialogue from this year.

Dr Balakrishnan also separately met and discussed bilateral relations, as well as developments in Japan and the region, with Democratic Party of Japan president Katsuya Okada and some former participants of the Raffles Programme, an annual visit programme to Singapore for senior Japanese officials.

The four-day visit began on Sunday. After meeting other senior Japanese officials on Wednesday, Dr Balakrishnan will return to Singapore.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg