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SINGAPORE: Singapore and Japan have inked two agreements on promoting the flow of entrepreneurship between both countries and enhancing their governments’ digital transformations. 

The signing of the agreements on Thursday (May 26) was witnessed by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Japanese counterpart Kishida Fumio, on Mr Lee’s four-day working trip to Tokyo. 

One Memorandum of Cooperation aims to bolster the flow of entrepreneurs and enterprises between both countries, by promoting greater access to start-up and innovation ecosystems. 

The Memorandum of Cooperation, which builds on a previous agreement signed in 2018, will focus on emerging areas such as digital transformation and green transformation, said Enterprise Singapore, which signed the agreement with the Japan External Trade Organisation. 

Both sides will explore initiatives, such as business matching sessions to help Singapore and Japanese firms connect with accelerators, business partners and investors. 

“This will empower businesses to build market knowledge, access new opportunities … and deepen their partnerships with start-ups and corporate membership networks,” it added. 

DIGITAL GOVERNMENT TRANSFORMATION 

Another Memorandum of Cooperation on digital government transformation was signed by Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of GovTech Janil Puthucheary, and Japanese Minister for Digital and Minister-in-charge of Administrative Reform Karen Makishima. 

The agreement involves exchanging information about digital government frameworks and best practices, covering topics such as digital identities, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud services, said GovTech. 

“Such exchanges will benefit the design and development of digital services for our citizens and businesses,” GovTech added.

For instance, Singapore and Japan will explore the mutual recognition of verified credentials for their residents’ digital identities, which will “benefit digital trade and people-to-people flows between both countries”, GovTech said. 

The agreement also builds on existing areas of cooperation, including an MOC between both countries’ communication ministries on the digital economy, AI, cybersecurity and information and communication technology. 

ENHANCING BILATERAL ECONOMIC TIES 

Beyond the agreements, Singapore and Japan will also be establishing a Japan-Singapore Economic Dialogue (JSED). 

It will be chaired at the Vice-Ministerial or Permanent Secretary level. The dialogue will discuss enhancing economic cooperation, including Japan’s proposal on its Asia-Japan Investing for the Future Initiative, which Singapore has welcomed.  

It will also exchange views on international and regional developments. Details on the JSED will be shared at a later date, said Singapore’s Trade and Industry Ministry. 

Japan was Singapore’s 8th largest trading partner in 2021. Total merchandise trade between Singapore and Japan grew 8.6 per cent year-on-year to S$53.9 billion.