ASEAN is improving the region, holds great potential: Yudhoyono

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Friday that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had vastly improved the region over the past few years.

“It has taken time and diplomacy for the countries in Southeast Asia to be grouped under one regional organization like ASEAN. We are now committed to realizing our goal of establishing an ASEAN Community in 2015,” Yudhoyono said in a public lecture held on the sidelines of his official visit to Tokyo, Japan.

The President expressed his optimism that the region would become more prosperous and developed in the future. “The Asian Development Bank [ADB] predicts that the combined GDP [gross domestic product] of countries in Asia will total US$160 trillion by 2050, and that poor countries will cease to exist in Asia, including in Southeast Asia,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also attended the lecture, stated that it was important for key politicians and figures in Japan to hear firsthand about the security situation in Southeast Asia, which is one of Japan’s biggest trading areas.

Besides discussing investment and trade, Yudhoyono and Abe said their two countries would also focus on infrastructure development, which is badly needed across Indonesia.

President Yudhoyono is in Japan to attend a meeting commemorating the 40th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN cooperation.