In the Asia-Pacific region, the developing center of the world, embers capable of disturbing its stability smolder all around. It is important that Japan and America broaden their mutual cooperation and security from a “line” to an “area,” and join with other countries in order to protect the order in this region.
Thanks to a conference held between Prime Minister Abe and President Obama, it is clear once more they must hasten their efforts. After all, most of the pending problems they discussed cannot be solved by the two countries alone.
At the conference, they addressed topics from cyber spies stealing state and business information, to countermeasures designed to combat large-scale terrorism. Considering how Japan is preparing for the Group of 8 summit on Ise-Shima next year, and the Tokyo Olympics as well as the Paralympics in 2020, we require cooperation not only from America, but from countries all over the world.
Yet another issue is how we should respond to China’s reclamation of the South China Sea and its construction of artificial islands. China is behaving as if it’s all its own territory, and if its militarization proceeds any further, many countries may have their “freedom of navigation” severely restricted.
At the conference, President Obama made it clear he would not recognize the artificial islands as Chinese territory. He declared he would continue to send American military vessels within 12 nautical miles (approximately 22 kilometers or 7.5 miles) of them. Prime Minister Abe is also taking inspiration from “the influence made by ANPO,” advising our Self-Defense Forces to investigate activity in the South China Sea.*
The South China Sea is a crucial maritime traffic route. In order to preserve the stability of the region, even Japan must carry out the established role we have.
Even in our current situation, it is not impossible for us to send the Self-Defense Forces as a precautionary measure or for training. The only thing is, no matter how hard we try, there is a limit to how much America and Japan can hold down China’s forceful actions by themselves. That is why it’s essential that they work closely with nearby countries in the South China Sea, and have everyone create a system that will press for some self-control by China.
In addition to the Self-Defense Force’s past experience in joint training with Philippine forces, it has also agreed to cooperate with Vietnamese forces. So that many countries may increase the strength of their maritime defense, I would like Japan and America to cooperate and broaden their support for a well-equipped area.
*Editor’s note: ANPO stands for The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.
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