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Speech By Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, At The 33rd Singapore Lecture

26 Jul 2013

His Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

1  It is with great pleasure that I welcome all of you to the 33rd Singapore Lecture.

2  We are honoured to have with us this afternoon the Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Shinzo Abe.  To Prime Minister Abe, thank you for agreeing to deliver the Singapore Lecture during what I know is a very short and busy trip to Singapore for you.

3  Singapore and Japan share a warm and comprehensive relationship characterised by deep economic ties and wide-ranging cooperation in areas such as health, the environment and cultural exchanges.  Prime Minister Abe himself has played an important role in advancing these relations.  In 2007, together with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, he mooted the idea of setting up a Japan Creative Centre, or JCC, in Singapore to promote Japan’s cutting-edge technologies as well as Japanese arts and culture.  The first of its kind outside of Japan, the JCC has become an enduring symbol of the long-standing ties between our two countries. 

4  Prime Minister Abe’s bilateral visit to Singapore today follows from Prime Minister Lee’s visit to Japan in May.  It also marks Prime Minister Abe’s third visit to Southeast Asia after taking office in December last year, a clear reflection of the importance he places on building relations with our region.

5  Since his re-election to the premiership, Prime Minister Abe has prioritised Japan’s economic recovery and diplomacy in the regional and global arena.  He has rolled out a series of bold macroeconomic policies and reforms aimed at revitalising the Japanese economy.  Collectively dubbed “Abenomics”, these policies will be the focus of today’s Singapore Lecture. 

6  Prime Minister Abe was known to be a skilled archery player in his college days. It is therefore no coincidence that the combination of monetary policy, fiscal policy and structural reform initiatives that comprise the new approach in Japan’s economic strategies is referred to as the “three arrows of Abenomics”. Singapore and the rest of the world watches the flight of the three arrows, and especially the progress of the third arrow of structural reforms, with great interest.

7  Prime Minister Abe’s policy moves come at a crucial juncture, with the advanced economies still emerging from the throes of a deep financial crisis.  Asia too is seeing increased uncertainties, although it remains the largest source of growth in the world economy.  Asia’s growth will be more resilient and confidence in the region stronger, with an economically vibrant Japan. 

8  There indeed remains a strong complementarity between economic prospects in Japan and ASEAN.  Success in “Abenomics” will provide a boost to the ASEAN economies through greater trade and investment.  In turn, Japan’s re-engagement of the region is expected to add strength to its own economic recovery.   

9  While Japan faces challenges, we should not forget that Japan is still a fount of new technologies and culture, reflecting deep fundamental strengths. These are strengths that Singapore and the region have benefited from over the last few decades and have more to learn from.

10   As Prime Minister Abe said earlier this year, he is back and so is Japan.  We look forward to Japan’s important contribution to the prosperity and stability of the region under Prime Minister Abe’s leadership.

11  Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I now invite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to deliver the 33rd Singapore Lecture. 

12  Thank you.