PM Lee congratulates Suga, calls Abe 'a good friend'

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong sent a letter of congratulations to new Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga.
Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong sent a letter of congratulations to new Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga.PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, REUTERS

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has congratulated Mr Yoshihide Suga for stepping into his new role as prime minister of Japan, which he calls "a valued partner of Asean".

In a letter to Mr Suga yesterday, PM Lee underlined the wide-ranging partnership between Singapore and Japan across areas ranging from economic cooperation and disaster management to connectivity and capacity-building.

"I understand that one of your priorities will be digitalising your government. The Asean Smart Cities Network can be one platform for us to collaborate in this area," said PM Lee. The network is a collaborative platform of the 10-member bloc with the goal of achieving smart and sustainable urban development.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the two countries "have demonstrated the resilience of our excellent relationship", PM Lee added.

Earlier this month, Singapore and Japan announced a green lane for essential business and official travel for residents from both countries with effect from tomorrow, to help boost economic recovery for both sides.

"We have worked closely to maintain supply chain connectivity, restore travel and support the recovery of our economies," said PM Lee.

"Next year, we mark the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. There is much more we can do together, including to tackle common challenges such as our ageing populations."

Mr Suga was sworn into office yesterday, taking the helm from Mr Shinzo Abe, who stepped down due to poor health.

PM Lee said it has been a privilege to have worked with Mr Abe - who served two non-consecutive terms as premier - for close to a decade.


"You leave office with an impressive track record, after achieving a historic milestone by becoming Japan's longest-serving prime minister," said PM Lee in a valedictory letter to his former counterpart.

"As a signatory to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Singapore is grateful for the decisive leadership you exercised to bring this agreement to a successful conclusion, after the US withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership," said PM Lee.

Calling Mr Abe "a good friend", PM Lee noted: "You have strengthened our robust relationship, which I look forward to building on with your successor."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2020, with the headline 'PM Lee congratulates Suga, calls Abe 'a good friend''. Print Edition | Subscribe