His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the 15th ASEAN-Japan Summit
[Delivered in the Kingdom of Cambodia on November 19, 2012]
In the span of only a few generations, Japan has rebuilt itself from the ashes of war into a beacon of progress for the region. As our shared experience might show, growth begins—and is sustained—by ensuring that rules are clearly articulated and followed.
This is the same principle that will redound to our communal benefit in the conduct of interstate relations. We must all work to ensure that mechanisms are in place, and are utilized to resolve tensions; that economic pressure, which can sometimes be perceived as coercive, is not used as an approach to settle disputes. The rule of law, such as that enshrined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), must therefore be the bedrock of engagement with other members of the community of nations. The Philippines will continue to uphold this principle in its engagement with ASEAN, Japan, and other stakeholders, as the region strives to resolve overlapping maritime claims.
We are all aware of the gains that positive engagement can bring. The recent economic ministers’ roadshow, for example, was a resounding success, and we thank Japan for hosting it. The roadshow was able to increase the profile of the ASEAN Free Trade Area in the Japanese business community, and encourage the development of broader and deeper linkages between ASEAN and Japanese small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Likewise, through the implementation of the ASEAN-Japan 10-Year Strategic Economic Cooperation Roadmap, we foresee the doubling of the flow of goods, services, and investments between our community and Japan. Let us continue to pursue earnest efforts to integrate our markets and enhance industrial cooperation. By interacting in an atmosphere of mutual respect and fairness, we can all look forward to a future of stability and prosperity in the region.