Japan PM Suga to headline Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

SINGAPORE – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue from June 4 to 5, The Straits Times has learnt.

The organiser of the major security summit, London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said in a statement to ST on Tuesday (May 11) that its invitation to Mr Suga to be keynote speaker “is being considered favourably”.

Earlier on Tuesday, Japanese wire agency Kyodo News reported, citing government sources, that Mr Suga was “slated to give a keynote speech” at the dialogue.

The last Japanese premier to headline the dialogue was Mr Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe in 2014.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the most recent keynote speaker in 2019, with the dialogue cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kyodo added that Mr Suga is expected to call for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. This mirrors the agenda for the United States, which confirmed last Tuesday that its Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin would attend the fully in-person event.

According to a delegate agenda, other topics to be covered at the summit include collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region, environmental threats, and artificial intelligence and new technologies. These will be touched on over six plenary sessions on June 5, with a ministerial roundtable at midday on top of bilateral meetings on June 4.

The summit will gather high-level defence policymakers from more than 40 countries around the world in an event “bubble” centred on the Singapore hotel it is named after.

This will enable fully in-person meetings and discussions between high-level defence policymakers to take place freely, as they will be able to move around the grounds with minimal restrictions.

IISS has said it will continue to closely partner the Singapore Government to ensure the “highest levels of safety” for participants.

More ministers from Asia, Europe and the Middle East are set to confirm their attendance in the coming weeks.

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