Japan - Southeast Asia

Chronology from Jan 2015 to May 2015

: Thai government publicly announces the formation of a Thai-Japanese project to build the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar and indicates that a formal agreement will be signed in May.

: Prime Minister Abe addresses the Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia and expresses “deep remorse” for Japan’s actions in World War II but does not offer an apology.  Although it creates friction with Japan’s Northeast Asian neighbors, it has little impact in Southeast Asia.

: Sasakawa Yohei, special envoy of the government of Japan for national reconciliation in Myanmar, issues a statement praising the draft ceasefire agreement between Myanmar’s central government and the armed ethnic groups; he offers Japanese diplomatic support for a finalization of the agreement.

:   Japanese-funded Tsubasa Bridge across the Mekong River opens in Cambodia. It will strengthen transportation links in the “southern economic corridor” of mainland Southeast Asia, linking Ho Chi Minh City with Bangkok via Phnom Penh.  It is the third Cambodian bridge donated by Japan and the second Japanese-built bridge across the Mekong.

: Indonesian President Joko Widodo visits Japan, his first state visit outside Southeast Asia.  He and Prime Minister Abe Shinzo sign a defense agreement to cooperate on military training and technology and agree to set up a bilateral forum on maritime security.

: Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio and Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan hold talks on ensuring maritime security, an obvious reference to the South China Sea, on the margins of the UN World Conference in Disaster Relief Reduction in Sendai.

: Japan and Laos agree to forge a bilateral strategic partnership when Laotian Prime Minister Thonsing Thammavong visits Tokyo, elevating bilateral relations from the comprehensive partnership established in 2010.

: Japan and ASEAN agree to launch the ASEAN-Japan Dialogue on Transnational Crime and Terrorism.

: Japan’s Cabinet approves new guidelines for foreign aid, stipulating for the first time that Japan can fund foreign military forces.

: Thailand Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha arrives in Tokyo for consultations on joint investment projects.  He is the first Thai leader to visit Japan since the Thai coup in May 2014.

: The first tranche of coast guard ships promised by Japan in 2013 to strengthen Vietnamese patrol and surveillance capacity arrive in Vietnam.

: Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin makes a three-day visit to Tokyo to confer with Japanese Ministry of Defense officials on bilateral security concerns.

Date Range