Malaysia and Japan agree to more comprehensive ties and continue Look East policy

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TOKYO: Malaysia and Japan have agreed to take their bilateral relations to a more comprehensive level while pursuing the Look East Policy (LEP) by establishing new areas of cooperation such as energy, smart city, environment and climate change.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, when meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Friday, had proposed that relations between Malaysia and Japan should be transformed into a “comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP)” and said that Malaysia was ready to pursue the Look East policy which was welcomed by Kishida.

Ismail Sabri said that he and Kishida agreed to discuss further to coordinate in terms of link upgrades.

“Malaysia and Japan will draft a clearer plan on closer relations,” he told a news conference in Toyo at the end of his successful official working visit to Japan.

Malaysia and Japan upgraded their relationship from an Enhanced Partnership to a Strategic Partnership in 2015.

According to Ismail Sabri, Kishida visited Malaysia in 2015 as foreign minister and in that year the status of Malaysia-Japan relations changed from “enhanced partnership” to “strategic partnership”.

In the meeting held on Friday at Kantei or the Japanese Prime Minister’s office, Ismail Sabri held bilateral talks with Kishida to strengthen the long-established ties between Malaysia and Japan and this was the first meeting between the two leaders.

Ismail Sabri and Kishida had contacted by telephone on December 2, 2021 and April 20 to discuss strengthening Malaysia-Japan relations as well as regional and international issues in which Japan and Malaysia have common interests.

It was also Kishida’s first time hosting the Malaysian prime minister since he took over as prime minister of Japan in October last year.

This year also marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Japan as well as the 40th anniversary of the Look East policy.

Ismail Sabri said he also expressed his gratitude to Kishida for Japan’s support and assistance in efforts to help Malaysia’s development through the implementation of the Look East Policy (LEP) .

“We said Malaysia is ready to pursue the Look East policy with Japan through new cooperation programs such as energy, smart city, environment and climate change,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said during his discussion with Kishida that the two leaders also agreed to intensify cooperation in the areas of economy, trade and investment.

Jepun has also been Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner since 2015. Trade value in 2021 stood at $35.9 billion, up about 20% from $29.6 billion in 2020.

Japan is also Malaysia’s third largest investor in terms of manufacturing projects.

The value of investments from 1980 to 2021 was USD 27.6 billion with 2,709 projects in the manufacturing sector implemented. In 2021, $1.81 billion in investments were recorded, involving 25 approved manufacturing projects.

Ismail Sabri said he also assured Kishida that the process of establishing the secondary campus of the University of Tsukuba in Malaysia will be finalized soon.

He said the Ministry of Higher Education (KPT) has said that the technical issue in establishing the university has been resolved.

The intention to establish the Japanese University’s branch campus in Malaysia was raised in 2018 to give exposure and access to the education system in Japan to Malaysian students.

“We have given our assurance that it will be put in place soon,” said Ismail Sabri. — Bernama

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