TOKYO, May 28 — Malaysia and Japan have agreed to upgrade bilateral relations to a more comprehensive level while continuing with the Look East Policy (LEP) by establishing new areas of cooperation such as energy, smart city, environment and climate change.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Friday had proposed that the Malaysia-Japan ties be upgraded to ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) and stated Malaysia’s readiness to continue with the Look East Policy which was well-received by Kishida.

Ismail Sabri said he and Kishida agreed to discuss further to coordinate in terms of upgrading ties.

“Malaysia and Japan will draft out clearer outline on the closer relations,” he said in a media conference in Toyo at the end of his successful official working visit to Japan.

Malaysia and Japan upgraded their relations from Enhanced Partnership to Strategic Partnership in 2015.

According to Ismail Sabri, Kishida had visited Malaysia in 2015 as Foreign Minister and that year the status of Malaysia-Japan ties was raised from “Enhanced Partnership” to “Strategic Partnership.” In the meeting held at Kantei or the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office on Friday, Ismail Sabri held bilateral discussions with Kishida to strengthen the long-established Malaysia-Japan ties and it was the first meeting between the two leaders.

Ismail Sabri and Kishida had made contact via telephone on December 2 2021 and on April 20 to discuss enhancing Malaysia-Japan relations as well as on regional and international issues in which Japan and Malaysia have common interests.

It was also the first time Kishida played host to the Malaysian Prime Minister since taking up the post as the Prime Minister of Japan in October last year.

This year is also the 65th anniversary of Malaysia-Japan diplomatic relations and also the 40th anniversary of the Look East Policy.

Ismail Sabri said he had also expressed his appreciation to Kishida for the support and assistance of Japan in the efforts to help develop Malaysia in the context of the implementation of the Look East Policy (LEP).

“We have stated Malaysia’s readiness to continue with the Look East Policy with Japan via new cooperation programmes such as energy, smart city, environment and climate change,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said in his discussion with Kishida, both leaders also agreed to step up cooperation in economy, trade and investment.

Jepun is also the fourth largest trading partner to Malaysia since 2015. Trade value in 2021 amounted to US$35.9 billion, increasing about 20 per cent compared to US$29.6 billion in 2020.

Japan is also the third-largest investor in Malaysia in terms of projects in the manufacturing sector.

Investment value from 1980 to 2021 was US$27.6 billion with 2,709 projects in the manufacturing sector implemented. In 2021, US$1.81 billion of investment was recorded involving 25 projects in manufacturing approved.

Ismail Sabri said he also assured Kishida that the process of setting up the branch campus of Tsukuba University in Malaysia would be finalised soon.

He said the Higher Education Ministry (KPT) had stated the technical problem relating to establishing the university has been resolved.

The intention to set up the branch campus of the Japanese university in Malaysia was raised in 2018 to give exposure and access to the system of education in Japan to Malaysian students.

“We gave our assurance that it would be set up soon,” said Ismail Sabri. — Bernama