The leaders of Japan and five Southeast Asian nations along the Mekong River held a summit Tuesday in Tokyo with the aim of adopting a new three-year strategy to improve connectivity in the region through quality infrastructure building.
During the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are expected to exchange their views on the three main areasconnectivity, people and the environment, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The Mekong region is seen as a promising market for Japanese companies as its combined population stood at 238 million and its combined total gross domestic product amounted to $781 billion in 2017, according to International Monetary Fund data.
Tokyo also views the region as geopolitically important as it is located between India and China and facing the South China Sea, where Beijing is increasing its maritime assertiveness, Japanese officials said.
The summit involves Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The Mekong-Japan Summit has been convened every year since 2009, aimed at pursuing sustainable development in the region and narrowing the development gap there. It is held once every three years in Japan.
When the leaders met in Tokyo three years ago, Japan pledged to provide aid worth $6.1 billion in official development assistance to the five Mekong countries over the next three years to boost the region’s infrastructure development and stability.
Under the envisioned “Tokyo Strategy 2018 for Mekong-Japan Cooperation,” which is set to be approved in the latest summit, Japan and the five countries will seek to promote “quality infrastructure” in further enhancing “hard connectivity,” “soft connectivity,” and “industry connectivity” in the Mekong region and beyond, according to diplomatic sources.
The leaders are also expected to vow to promote greater participation of women and work together to tackle climate change in the region and their common challenge of water resource management and disaster risk reduction, according to the sources.
Source: Lao News Agency