Pledging to cooperate with SAARC to achieve better regional connectivity, Japan on Tuesday described the constituency as a "growth region", which was more "stable than ever".
"A new frontier or an arc has emerged. It is a growth region, more stable than ever, committed to universal values. South Asia indeed makes a central pillar of the arc," said Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso in his opening remarks at the 14th SAARC summit in the New Delhi.
"I have made a pledge that throughout this transition, Japan shall always be their running mate."
Japan has been invited as an observer in this year's summit along with the US, China, the European Union and South Korea.
Recalling Japan's history of friendship with the region, Aso said both India and Pakistan provided it with crucial materials like iron ore and cotton before its post-war miracle took shape.
"In Nepal and Bhutan, my country will continue to support their democratisation and in Afghanistan, the Japanese have long worked with the Afghan people to help build the nation," said Aso.
"Remember that 300 years ago, South Asia alone produced one fourth of the world output. What is unfolding is not a new rise but a great comeback of the region and the SAARC fully deserves the drama."
Aso added that Japan has put an additional $7 million into the SAARC-Japan special fund and promised to widen cooperation further.