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In 2000, the ASEAN member countries signed the UN Millennium Declaration to eradicate extreme poverty in the world by 2015 through the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs represented the global vision of reducing poverty in its various dimensions, and they were mainstreamed in the process of building the ASEAN Socio-cultural Community, which had a similar target date of 2015.1 The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework approved in 2015 goes beyond the MDG agenda, which focused solely on poverty, to also include inequality. In recent years, inequality has been worsening amidst rapid economic growth and falling poverty rates. Inequality can reduce the impact of economic growth on poverty reduction. Conversely, reduced inequality will increase the efficiency of poverty reduction. Unequal societies and countries can achieve a high level of growth but cannot sustain it. Thus, addressing inequalities will help in attaining and maintaining growth, which in turn is a necessary condition for reducing poverty. Furthermore, reducing inequality will help in easing social tensions, deepening social capital, and improving peace and order, which are all crucial to poverty reduction, thus also making growth more inclusive. At the heart of the post-2015 framework to address poverty and inequality is the adoption of an inclusive and sustainable growth model. Inclusive growth is growth that is broad based and benefits the majority of the population. One of the primary goals of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership signed in 2008 is the establishment of a “framework for the enhancement of economic cooperation among the Parties with a view to supporting ASEAN economic integration, bridging the development gap among ASEAN Member States, and enhancing trade and investment among the Parties.” This was reiterated in the Bali Declaration of 2011, which “reaffirm(ed) the commitment of ASEAN and Japan to work closely in supporting ASEAN integration and narrowing the development gap in the region, and reaffirm(ed) the support of the Government of Japan in the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, with a view to intensifying the flow of trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people interaction.”2 Within this context, the main objective of this chapter is to propose measures for how the ASEAN-Japan partnership can contribute to the global governance of reducing poverty and inequality in the post-MDG era. It attempts to address the following questions: How can the ASEAN-Japan partnership tackle global poverty and inequality to ensure that economic growth is inclusive and benefits the greatest number of people? And how can the ASEAN-Japan partnership contribute to harnessing economic growth for a more equitable distribution of opportunity and income?

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