22 May 2024

Japan plans to apply for ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) status, according to highly placed sources, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Japan and ASEAN Relations this year.

Japan earlier submitted a concept paper to the ASEAN Secretariat about its upcoming plan regarding the application for CSP. The two sides are to convene a commemorative summit in early December in Tokyo, the sources said.

ASEAN accorded the CSP status to China and Australia in 2021 and to the US and India in 2022. Apart from Japan, South Korea has already expressed an intention to apply for CSP next year.

To gain the CSP status, the recipient country must demonstrate its overall value as a CSP in promoting ASEAN relevance and strengthening ASEAN centrality. The sources added that senior officials from the bloc are scheduled to meet their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo on 27th and 28th March, at the ASEAN-Japan Forum to discuss their bilateral ties and plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN relations.

According to the sources, ASEAN and Japan will work together at the Tokyo meeting on their plans of action for the year to come. Japan has expressed an intention to set out a new vision for future ASEAN-Japan relations.

Meanwhile, various commemorative events and exchange programs, to be held throughout 2023, will be announced soon. Japan is the only dialogue partner which has issued a joint statement on its cooperation between its Free and Open Indo-Pacific and the ASEAN frameworks, known as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

Both sides have identified more than 60 projects under the four categories of cooperation, namely maritime, connectivity, sustainable development and economic affairs.

Thailand is a coordinating country for ASEAN-Japan relations. Japan established informal dialogue relations with ASEAN in 1973, which were formalised in March 1977.