TOKYO, May 22 – Malaysia’s move to strengthen the second wave of the Look East Policy which focuses on high technology and highly skilled workers, will help the country’s economy move up the value chain and on to high-income status, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. “Not only has the Look East policy continued under my tenure, but also in line with our transformation programme for Malaysia. Japan’s reputation for economic leadership is well known and well deserved, he added. In the early 1980s, under Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia began a “Look East” policy, of turning to Japan and Korea for inspiration, and helping train the next generation of Malaysian students and businesses leaders in the East Asian way. “Things were different back then. Asia was rising, but the truly explosive growth was still to come,” said Najib in his keynote address at the prestigious Nikkei 20th International Conference on The Future Asia, “Rising Asia: Messages For the Next 20 Years”, held here Thursday. The conference is organised by the international media group, Nikkei Inc, of Japan. Also present at the event was Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Tsuneo Kita, the president and chief executive officer of Nikkei Inc. This is Najib’s second appearance as keynote speaker at the Nikkei conference. He made his debut at the 17th Nikkei Conference in 2011. “The emergence of the ‘Tiger’ economies, and the reforms in China, showed the world that something was stirring in Asia. It was the 1980s that the phrase ‘Asian Century’ was coined. But for many observers, Asia was still tomorrow’s story,” he said. But, Najib was quick to point out that, “tomorrow has come”. Economically and politically, Asia is now at the heart of world affairs. The most populous region on earth is also one of the most dynamic and increasingly, one of the most contested. With this in mind, the prime minister highlighted remarkable economic development, has focused global attention on Asia’s prospects. “When the recent financial crisis shook confidence in established markets, more companies and countries began to ‘look east’,” he added. This growing sense of economic momentum has also raised the geopolitical stakes, as emerging and established powers vie for influence in Asia. “This trend shows no sign of abating. Within 20 years, Asia is set to account for more than 40 per cent of the global gross domestic product, and 60 per cent of the world’s middle class,” Najib said. He also said this phase of growth would be accompanied by growing global stature, influence and interest and Asia must come to terms with life in the spotlight. “Asia’s economy will remain in focus, and our internal dynamics under the microscope. There will be, no return to Asia’s age of isolation. We are one of the new centres of gravity in a newly multipolar world,” he added. Earlier in his opening remarks, Najib said under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s leadership, the Japanese economy had burst back to life and now looks set to usher in a new period of sustained growth, thus setting a new standard for reform.