Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida marked a milestone collaboration on Saturday (16 Dec), through a new pact aimed at promoting digital and green practices within the maritime industry, solidifying their commitment to enhancing ties between their nations.
The agreement, known as the Green and Digital Shipping Corridor, will see Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) collaborating with six of Japan’s busiest ports on trials to decarbonize and digitize the maritime sector.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Lee expressed his enthusiasm for further collaboration, especially in the digital and green sectors.
He highlighted the existing cooperation between Singapore and Japan in various areas and expressed a desire to explore more opportunities for joint initiatives.
The occasion for the meeting was Singapore’s Prime Minister’s visit to Tokyo, where he participated in three days of festivities commemorating 50 years of ASEAN-Japan relations.
ASEAN and Japan had already upgraded their ties to the highest-tier Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in September, setting the stage for deeper collaboration. Singapore, being an integral part of ASEAN, will take over as ASEAN’s country coordinator for Japan from Thailand, starting in July 2024, further underscoring the strengthening relationship between the two nations.
Japan’s commitment to reinforcing cooperation was reiterated by Prime Minister Kishida, who expressed Japan’s keen interest in enhancing ties not only with Singapore but with the entire ASEAN region.
He emphasized the importance of maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law, asserting that the world is at a turning point in history.
The joint statement released by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted the leaders’ affirmation of the longstanding and excellent bilateral relations, with an emphasis on upholding a rules-based international order.
The leaders discussed expanding and deepening cooperation in various areas, including the future economy, digitalization, sustainability, energy, and security.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry provided a readout of the meeting, indicating that Prime Minister Kishida touched upon topics such as start-ups, supply chain resilience, digitalization, and sustainability.
Both leaders acknowledged the importance of these issues in shaping the future of their nations and the global landscape.
The memorandum of cooperation on the Green and Digital Shipping Corridor was signed by Singapore’s Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat and Japan’s Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito.
Described as a “milestone collaboration” by Singapore’s Transport Ministry, the agreement aims to develop standards and best practices supporting the decarbonization, digitalization, and growth of the maritime industry.
Japan, as one of Singapore’s top 10 trading partners, with a bilateral trade volume of S$65 billion in 2022, holds a crucial position in Singapore’s economic landscape.
The agreement will involve pilot projects to test the use of zero- or near-zero-emission fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen for decarbonization. On the digitalization front, the port authorities will explore ways to streamline port clearance processes and exchange information to mitigate maritime cyber-security risks.
Singapore’s MPA will collaborate with ports in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Osaka, Kobe, and Nagoya. These ports, as key nodes for Japan’s major economic regions, handled a total of about 57 million tonnes of cargo in 2020, underscoring the significance of their collaboration in driving sustainable and technologically advanced practices in the maritime sector.
In a lighter moment during the meeting, Prime Minister Lee broached the topic of the 2025 Osaka World Expo. Despite facing delays, budget overruns, and flagging public support in Japan, Singapore is set to be one of the first foreign countries to start building its pavilion.
Prime Minister Lee humorously reported to Prime Minister Kishida that Singapore is about to break ground for its pavilion in Osaka and invited him to visit the Singapore pavilion during the exhibition.
After attending the exhibition, PM Lee will also be on leave from 15-31 December.
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