The Jakarta Post
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has called members of ASEAN to further embrace their unity as a group so it may exert a larger influence internationally.
Learning from the European Union (EU), a common diplomacy instead of economic integration was the best result from the bloc’s regional unification, said JICA president Shinichi Kitaoka.
“If it [ASEAN] is divided into several groups or divided by some elements into a couple of groups, then you will lose your power. I really hope that it will develop more as an entity,” he told a group of visiting journalists from ASEAN countries on Friday.
(Read also: Indonesia told to strengthen role in ASEAN)
Kitaoka further said that JICA also expected to see a higher expansion of middle class across Southeast Asia, which he considers the foundation of sound economy and politics regionally.
He also asserted that going forward, the agency would continue its commitment to support ASEAN’s economic growth through assistance in infrastructure development.
JICA funneled 13.61 trillion yen (US$122.29 billion) in overseas development assistance (ODA) comprising loans, grants and technical cooperation to ASEAN in 2015, according to the latest data available.
Indonesia is its largest beneficiary with 4.72 trillion yen, followed by the Philippines with 2.44 trillion yen and Vietnam with 2.39 trillion yen.
Currently, the agency supports the development of Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system and Patimban Port in Subang, West Java, among other projects.