23-24 October 2013: 39th ASEAN-Japan Business Meeting (AJBM)

Kitakyushu & Fukuoka City, Kyushu, Japan
23-24 October 2013

1. Introduction

The 39th ASEAN-Japan Business Meeting (AJBM) was held in Kitakyushu and in Fukuoka City in Japan on 23 October 2013.

The theme of the meeting was “Unleashing the Second Wave – Deepening the Business Collaboration between ASEAN and Japan towards Robust Growth”.

The meeting was attended by 50 Japanese delegates comprising Keizai Doyukai members and guests participants from Kitakyushu. There was an equal number of ASEAN delegates.

2. Opening Ceremony

Chairman of Keizai Doyukai, Mr Yasuchika Hasegawa (from Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd) in his opening remarks explained that this year’s meeting was convened out of Tokyo, in response to ASEAN’s requests, in an attempt to be “closer” to the Japanese SMEs. Kitakyushu was chosen as the venue for this year’s AJBM meetings, as Kitakyushu has strong relationship with ASEAN countries and they have an aggressive policy to promote Japan-ASEAN ties.

3. Plenary Session

Chairman of 39th AJBM, Mr Toshiyuki Shiga (COO of Nissan Co. Ltd) gave his introduction. The format of the 39th AJBM had been amended to reflect more interactive sessions with Questions and Dialogues and fewer presentations. The format also included a working visit to Nissan Plant in Kitakyushu, to be followed by a Roundtable Discussion along the theme of why the second wave of Japanese companies, particularly the SMEs, should accelerate their development and presence in ASEAN and what ASEAN and Japanese business people should expect from such momentum.

The presentations from Thailand and Indonesia highlighted the fact that Japan is currently ASEAN’s second largest trading partner after China and also the second largest source of FDI after EU in 2011.

Given the advent of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), ASEAN is well positioned to be a production hub for Japan manufacturing entities.

4. Business Strategy for Japan

Many Japanese companies have already invested in ASEAN and have expressed positive interest to further expand their operations and market share in the region. Their presence in ASEAN can be a source of encouragement to their business counterparts to consider ASEAN as an investment destination.

With the advent of AEC in 2015, now is the time for Japanese SMEs to gain a foothold in ASEAN. ASEAN is ready to facilitate not just on technology transfer but also seek longer, wider and deeper cooperation under the second wave. AJBM can be the platform to identify/locate potential JV partners.

5. 39th AJBM – Conclusion

The AJBM meeting concluded with the following comments and suggestions:

• Supply chain concerns are evident and they need to be addressed by all stakeholders, including our Government with respect to policies/laws, etc. Business efficiency cuts time, processes and funds.
• ASEAN need to actively develop and deepen supply chain linkages and this is the way forward for business to develop between ASEAN and Japan.
• Japanese SMEs face a lot of push factors to move out of Japan and they recognized that ASEAN is well placed to be a recipient of Japanese investments especially Japanese SME technologies and IPs.
• Keizai Doyukai offered to work with JCCI to develop the awareness of these Japanese companies to form partnerships with ASEAN companies and move to ASEAN for growth. Sectors with potential include low carbon technology, pharmaceutical and health care.

6. The 40th AJBM is scheduled to be held in the Philippines in the third quarter of 2014.