Japanese businesses see Southeast Asia as key to their growth

Japanese business leaders on Saturday emphasized the importance of Southeast Asian markets for the growth of Japanese companies during a meeting with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"Japan's economic circles will continue to deepen economic exchanges with ASEAN," Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, said at the luncheon meeting.

"Japan wants to contribute to sustainable growth in the ASEAN region," he added.

Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "ASEAN is Japan's biggest investment destination. Our relations with ASEAN are indispensable for Japan's economic revitalization."

The amount of Japanese direct investment in the 10-member ASEAN surged 55.4 percent in the first half of 2013 from the same period last year to a record high of $10.2 billion, according to a report released in August by the Japan External Trade Organization.

The amount is more than double Japan's direct investment in China.

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, making a brief address on behalf of ASEAN, asked Japanese businesses to continue to invest in the region, saying their technological skills are highly recognized around the world.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who attended the luncheon hosted by Keidanren and the JCCI, praised ASEAN's development, saying, "The rise of ASEAN is an accumulation of people's enormous efforts."