Malaysia, Japan agree to upgrade ties, continue with Look East Policy — PM
28 May 2022
Malaysia and Japan have agreed to upgrade bilateral relations to a more comprehensive level while continuing with the Look East Policy (LEP) by establishing new areas of cooperation, such as energy, smart city, the environment and climate change.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Friday (May 27) proposed that Malaysia-Japan ties be upgraded to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and stated Malaysia’s readiness to continue with the LEP, which was well received by Kishida.
Ismail Sabri said he and Kishida had agreed to discuss further to coordinate in terms of upgrading ties.
“Malaysia and Japan will draft out a clearer outline of closer relations,” he said at a media conference in Tokyo at the end of his official working visit to Japan.
Malaysia and Japan upgraded their relations from an enhanced partnership to a strategic partnership in 2015.
According to Ismail Sabri, Kishida visited Malaysia in 2015 as a foreign minister and that year, the status of Malaysia-Japan ties was raised from an enhanced partnership to a strategic partnership.
In the meeting held at Kantei or the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office on Friday, Ismail Sabri held bilateral discussions with Kishida to strengthen the long-established Malaysia-Japan ties, and it was the first meeting between the two leaders.
Ismail Sabri and Kishida previously made contact via telephone on Dec 2, 2021 and April 20 to discuss enhancing Malaysia-Japan relations as well as regional and international issues, in which Japan and Malaysia share common interests.
It was also the first time Kishida played host to the Malaysian prime minister since taking up the post as the prime minister of Japan in October last year.
This year is also the 65th anniversary of Malaysia-Japan diplomatic relations and the 40th anniversary of the LEP.
Ismail Sabri said he had also expressed his appreciation to Kishida for the support and assistance of Japan in efforts to help develop Malaysia in the context of the implementation of the LEP.
Ismail Sabri also said that in his discussion with Kishida, both leaders agreed to step up cooperation in the economy, trade and investment.
Japan has been the fourth largest trading partner of Malaysia since 2015. Trade value in 2021 amounted to US$35.9 billion (about RM157.21 billion), increasing about 20% compared with US$29.6 billion in 2020.
Japan is also the third largest investor in Malaysia in terms of projects in the manufacturing sector.
Investment value from 1980 to 2021 was US$27.6 billion with 2,709 projects in the manufacturing sector implemented. In 2021, US$1.81 billion of investment was recorded, involving 25 approved projects in manufacturing.
Ismail Sabri said he had also assured Kishida that the process of setting up the branch campus of Tsukuba University in Malaysia would be finalised soon.
He said the Ministry of Higher Education had stated that technical problems relating to the establishment of the university had been resolved.
The intention to set up the branch campus of the Japanese university in Malaysia was raised in 2018 to give exposure and access to the system of education in Japan to Malaysian students.
“We gave our assurance that it would be set up soon,” said Ismail Sabri.