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AseanAffairs Magazine July - August 2010

New Philippines President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino wins in a landslide election and promises to end poverty and fight corruption.

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Yoshikuni Ohnishi serves as the centre’s secretary general and shared his views on the role the centre plays in developing the relationship between Japan and the Asean group.

The Asean-Japan Centre (AJC) was established in 1981 by the founding members of Asean (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) and Japan. Toward this mission the centre has maintained an active role in promoting exports from Asean to Japan, accelerating the inflow of investment from Japan to Asean including the transfer of skill and technology, and vitalizing tourist traffic from Japan to Asean through close cooperation.

Asean economies are continuing to develop rapidly from the recent economic crisis. Nevertheless, some Asean countries showed more dramatic progress than the others which contributed to the widening of economic gaps between members. The AJC’s role is to fill these gaps that have been growing in importance over the years. The AJC will continue to make every effort in changing its programs to suit member countries’ needs and priorities.

The centre has been deepening and expanding its activities in response to the broadening relationship between Japan and Asean. Summing up the centre’s activities so far, the centre has conducted 89 trade exhibitions (as of March 2010) since its establishment, to introduce new Asean products and services to the Japanese market.

In addition, the centre has arranged more than 16,000 business meetings for trade exhibitions at the hall since 1994. For investment promotion activities, the centre has actively conducted activities involving both the public and private sectors. It has organized 517 Asean investment seminars in Japan since 1981 by inviting senior government officials from Asean to present business opportunities in their respective countries as well as dispatching 134 Japanese investment promotion missions to Asean countries. In tourism-related activities, the centre has been well received at the annual Asean Tourism Ministers’ Meeting as an international organization that promotes Asean as a single tourism destination.

In trade, focus has shifted from all Asean exhibitions-cum-business meetings to country-specific exhibitions to raise the effectiveness of the program. On investment, emphasis has gradually shifted to more technology-oriented industries such as information technology.

Tourists from Asia constitute about 70 percent of the international tourists in Japan. The combined number for Korea, Taiwan and China is about 50 percent. The remaining Asian tourists are mainly from Hong Kong and Asean (less than 10 percent). AJC is promoting tourism by providing a wide range of information on Asean countries’ tourism and assisting human resource development in Asean.

In some bilateral Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), tourism-related actions such as relaxation of regulations of tourism-related industries, mutual promotion and human resources development are included in the agreements. Though problems with visa approvals in Japan still remain, Japan’s rich natural, historical and cultural resources will accelerate the speed of tourism traffic from Asean countries. For example, at the Asean Fair, where Asean tourism is promoted to Japanese consumers, the AJC lets representatives from the national tourism offices of Asean member countries experience local tourism in the venue city. They then provide feedback to local tourism stakeholders of the city through exchange and dialogue sessions.

Yoshikuni Ohnishi graduate d from Waseda University and th  e University of Bath(UK).
He entered the Secretariat of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) in 1967.
He served in various positions as chief coordinating officer, Director of the Research and Planning Division and Consultant
to the APO Secretary General in Tokyo. He was a lecturer at Nagoya University,
Jumonji Women’s University and also served as President at the Japan International Business Advisory Corporation (2007-2008). He is currently serving as Secretary General of The ASEAN Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Touris

In the past, tourist traffic from Asean to Japan was negligible compared to Japanese tourists flocking to Asean countries. But recently, an increasing   number of people from Asean countries are visiting Japan. Last year, 614,000 people visited Japan from the Asean-5 countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand). The tourist flow from Singapore to Japan has increased. The number of Singaporean visitors to Japan in 2008 was 168,000, an 87 percent increase from 2004. This trend can be attributed to increased income levels of people in the Asean countries. Turning to industry, the Japan-Asean comprehensive economic partnership is often seen as formalizing Asean’s role as a regional manufacturing hub for Japanese firms.....











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