Singapore welcomes security role for Japan under alliance with US

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) shakes hands with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) during a meeting at Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore, on May 31, 2014. Singapore welcomes Japan's desire to contribute to peace and se
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) shakes hands with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) during a meeting at Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore, on May 31, 2014. Singapore welcomes Japan's desire to contribute to peace and security in the region, within the framework of the US-Japan Security Alliance, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday. -- PHOTO: AFP

Singapore welcomes Japan's desire to contribute to peace and security in the region, within the framework of the US-Japan Security Alliance, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday.

He made the remarks at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in Singapore for the annual Shangri-la Dialogue.

Mr Abe, giving the keynote speech on Friday night at the gathering for defence ministers and top military brass, had outlined his vision for a more robust Japanese role in the region's peace and security.

He also said that Japan supported South-east Asian countries in their attempts to resolve maritime disputes with China.

China claims sovereignty over the Spratlys and Paracels - two groups of islands in the South China Sea also claimed by a few South-east Asian nations. Separately, Japan and China are also locked in a dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.

Mr Lee said on Saturday that he had a "useful exchange" on these regional developments with Mr Abe, including about developments "in the last few weeks and days".

Tensions have spiked recently between China and Vietnam over a Chinese oil rig parked in waters claimed by both countries.

Besides regional security, Mr Lee and Mr Abe also reaffirmed bilateral relations between Singapore and Japan.

Mr Abe invited Singaporean investors to "seriously consider investing in Japan", which is introducing bold deregulation under his "Abenomics" restructuring plan for the economy.

He also pledged to complete an "early review" of the Japan-Singapore economic partnership agreement.

On economic collaboration through Asean, Mr Abe said he would work towards the "early conclusion" of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. These are multilateral trade pacts involving Asean countries and other partner economies

Mr Lee said that he had also told Mr Abe that Singapore would lift import restrictions on Japanese food products. An import ban, reduced progressively over the years, had been put in place for food from certain Japanese prefectures after the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in 2011.

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