ASEAN-Japan Business Meeting
Background, Objectives and Outline
The ASEAN-Japanese Business Meeting (AJBM) is a multilateral, private-led forum between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The inaugural meeting was held in 1974 in Tokyo, Japan, on the initiative of Keizai Doyukai, one of the influential national business organizations in Japan. Behind the creation of this forum lied a strong belief among the Keizai Doyukai members of the time, that economic exchange on the private-sector level, supplementing official development aid, should play a key role to realize stability and development of the East-Asian countries.
In comparison with other international conferences and forum, the AJBM is unique in providing an arena for private sector dialogue between Japan and the ASEAN as a region.
Since the launch in 1974, the AJBM has been held annually with the venue alternating between Japan and ASEAN countries. Cities hosted the AJBM so far include: Tokyo, Bali, Bangkok, Bandar Seri Begawan, Fukuoka, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kobe, Kuala Lumpur, Kyoto, Manila, Osaka, Nagoya and Phuket and Singapore. From the 22nd AJBM on, the meeting is held annually at rate of twice in ASEAN to once in Japan considering the increased ASEAN membership.
*The outline of the past AJBM, main themes and topics
For decades, the AJBM has offered its members -- business leaders from ASEAN countries and Japan -- occasions for frank and forward-looking dialogue on wide-ranging issues such as the promotion of trade and investment, the development of intra-regional cooperation in Asia, encouragement of technology transfer and human exchanges, cooperation in the capital and financial markets, and more. The focus of discussion has varied as the relationship between ASEAN and Japan gradually going forward to maturity, and according to the global setting of the times. From late 1990s up to today, especially after the financial crisis in Asia, remarkable rise of new emerging economies like China and India as a backdrop, common challenges for ASEAN and Japan, promotion of economic integration in the East Asia has been a central theme at the meetings.
While the focus of discussions has been evolving according to the changes in time and the global setting, the fundamental features and principles of the AJBM have been inherited from time to time and remain the same with the ones at the very beginning of the forum as;
- It is a purely private-level, multilateral forum, the main participant in which are business people from Japan and other Asian countries.
- It is a forum to discuss freely the problems existing among business people in the spirit of reciprocity.
- It is to be a lasting forum held once a year on the basis of mutual understanding.
- The basic theme is "The roles of Asian countries in the world economy in the 1970s," and on-going endeavors are to be made for harmonious development of Asian countries in the world.
- Constructive proposals adopted by the AJMB will be translated into actions to the maximum extent possible.
For the past years, Keizai Doyukai has submitted to the Japanese government various proposals and suggestions which emerged from discussions at these meetings, and has done its best to ensure that these ideas be reflected in the Japanese economic policies, while the ASEAN counterparts have done the same to their governments. Thus, the AJBM has served to strengthen the close mutual relationship.
One of the noteworthy results of the AJBM is the establishment of the Japan ASEAN Investment Company (JAIC). Incorporated in November 1981, JAIC aims to play a role as a catalyst for industrialization in the ASEAN region. JAIC expanded their investment businesses under the initiative of Keizai Doyukai and rechristened itself "the Japan Asia Investment Company (JAIC)" in June 1991.
In order to cooperate with the ASEAN countries more positively and effectively, the Keizai Doyukai set up the Japan-ASEAN Cooperation Committee as one of its committees in 1979 and Mr. Kiichiro Kitaura, then Chairman of the Nomura Securities Co., Ltd., assumed the chairmanship. Since then, the committee (renamed as Committee on Asia-Japan Relations in 1997) has been playing a central role at Keizai Doyukai for planning and organization of the annual AJBM.
*A list of past chairpersons of the committee:
Meanwhile, each ASEAN member country set up the National Committees comprised of key figures representing its business sector, availing the committee of coordination within members and planning of the AJBM when it serves as a host of the meeting.
The AJBM Steering Committee was first organized in 1987, by the representatives from all the National Committees in ASEAN countries and Keizai Doyukai. The steering committees is convened twice a year, principally to discuss the theme and agenda for the forth-coming meeting and to share information and awareness of the state of the ASEAN-Japan relations. It also has played a central role in maintaining the continuity of the AJBM, ensuring smooth and effective operation of the meeting, and empowering and invigorating the AJBM network.
Mr. Kiichiro Kitaura, then Chairman of the Nomura Securities Co., Ltd
Mr. Hisamitsu Uetani, then Chairman of the Yamaichi Securities Co., Ltd.
Mr. Shoji Umemura, then Chairman of the Nikko Securities Co., Ltd.
Mr.Yoshitoki Chino, then Honorary Chairman of the Daiwa Securities Co., Ltd.
Mr.Tatsuro Toyoda, then President of Toyota Motor Corporation
Mr. Tadasu Toba, then President of Ajinomoto Co., Inc.
Mr. Yoshikazu Hanawa, then President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Mr. Akio Kosai, then President, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.
Mr. Isao Kaneko, then President and CEO, Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.
Mr. Shoei Utsuda, then President and CEO of Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
Mr. Toshitaka Hagiwara, then Chairman of Komatsu Ltd.
Mr. Eizo Kobayashi, Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation (present)