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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    8 June 2012

JSEPA under review by Singapore and Japan

08 June 2012

Japan and Singapore have agreed to a third review of their bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement to further enhance economic ties between the two countries.

The agreement to revise the JSEPA - as the pact is often referred to - came during a meeting in Singapore on Tuesday between Singapore Foreign Minister K.

Shanmugam and his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba as one way to deepen bilateral cooperation.

The JSEPA, which was Japan's first-ever free trade agreement, came into force in November 2002 and was last amended in 2007.

"The expectation is that this review will update it with the latest changes and also be of benefit to both countries," Shanmugam told Singapore media yesterday. "So it is important from that perspective."

During his talks with his Japanese counterpart, Shanmugam reiterated Singapore's support for Japan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the United States-led initiative that seeks to free up the economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We made it very clear that we support the inclusion of Japan," Shanmugam told Singapore media.

"We think that as the third-largest economy in the world and with a very strong emphasis on trade and exchange of goods and services, it is important for Japan."

During their meeting, the two foreign ministers also talked about increasing aviation links and how their two countries can cooperate in various regional and multilateral forums, including the Asia-Europe Meeting seminar on nuclear safety. It will be held in Singapore later this month.

Both countries, Shanmugam stressed, share a "very strategic relationship" and see eye to eye on many topics.

Shanmugam arrived here on Monday for a three-day stay, his first visit to Japan as foreign minister.

"From my perspective as a minister meeting with my counterparts, I see a deep understanding of the issues that Japan needs to deal with and how it can work with countries like Singapore," said the Foreign Minister.

He said he was also greatly impressed by Japanese culture.

"You visit Tokyo, you cannot fail but be struck by the culture, the civility, the way the entire society is ordered and structured. That you see in every facet, whether it's a hotel, a ministry or a restaurant," he added.

Yesterday, besides meetings with Japanese politicians, Shanmugam had lunch at the Singapore embassy with Singaporeans living in Japan.
The minister left for Seoul in the afternoon for the second leg of his two-country tour.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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