Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida went to Europe to attend the G7 summit and NATO summit on the eve of the Senate election, emphasizing his opposition to “changing the status quo by force.” Experts believe that Japan is more active in international politics than before, and will expand cooperation with Europe and jointly deal with China.
Sanctions on Russia see change
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Spain from June 29 to 30. This is the first time a Japanese prime minister has attended a NATO summit.
Earlier, Kishida attended the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Germany on June 26. When talking about the situation in Ukraine, he pointed out: “Today’s Ukraine may be tomorrow’s East Asia.” Kishida promised to comprehensively strengthen Japan within five years. The country’s defense capabilities ensure a substantial increase in defense spending, adding that “unilateral changes to the status quo by force are not allowed.”
Since the general election of the Japanese Senate will be held on July 10, it is rare for Kishida to visit for 5 days during the election campaign. visit.
Susumu Takai, former director of research at the Japan Defense Research Institute and chairman of the Japan Institute for Security Strategies, said Kishida chose to attend the NATO summit at this time because of his domestic affairs and diplomatic considerations.
He told VOA: “The LDP’s proposed target of a substantial strengthening of defense capabilities is 2% of GDP, which is similar to the defense spending of major NATO countries, so Kishida wants to present his foreign and security policy at the NATO summit to gain international support. .At present, Japan’s security and defense policy is mainly to deal with China‘s military threats, but the lack of transparency of China‘s military power status can confirm that China is continuously increasing its strength and strengthening its military network and space capabilities, and more importantly, China is also trying to unilaterally change the status quo by force. Now the Russian-Ukrainian war has made Japan feel the need to strengthen its defenses and the importance of cooperating with democracies that share common values, so it came to the NATO summit at the juncture of the election.”
Kishida said at the G7 summit that he would approve a ban on imports of Russian-produced gold at a cabinet meeting in the near future to increase sanctions against Russia.
Celine Pajeon, a researcher at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), told Sankei Shimbun on June 23 that she was surprised by Japan’s decision to attend the NATO summit. She pointed out that Japan “has always had little sense of presence in the international community, especially when it comes to ‘disputes’, and has always been reluctant to take a stand.”
Xie Wensheng, an expert on Japan-China relations and the CEO of Taiwan Oasis Cultural and Educational Foundation, said in an interview with VOA that this NATO summit also invited other non-NATO countries, but Japan is a most special existence, because the only G7 leaders The non-NATO member is Japan, and its performance in this Russian-Ukrainian war has also impressed the international community the most.
He said: “After the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war this year, Japan’s performance was different from the past. Not only did it express its support for Ukraine very early, but it even provided military equipment such as body armor to Ukraine, and even accepted refugees from Ukraine. In 2014 When Russia invaded Crimea, Japan was the only country in the G7 that did not impose sanctions on Russia, but this time Japan resolutely stood with Europe and the United States and faced Russia together. Such a change has greatly improved Europe’s trust in Japan. , is especially important now that NATO needs to face the threat of China.”
Xie Wensheng pointed out that although European countries have considerable experience in facing Russia, they are exploring how to adjust their relations with an increasingly threatening China; since Japan has long-term experience in dealing with China, NATO hopes Japan provides the assistance Europe needs.
For the first time this year, NATO has included “countering the rise of China” into the organization’s guiding principles, which is the first revision of NATO’s strategic concept in more than a decade.
Expanding alliance with Europe
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed at a regular press conference held on June 23 that NATO has moved to the Asia-Pacific region in recent years to “show its might”, and pointed out that the Asia-Pacific region is not within the geographic scope of the North Atlantic Ocean, and believes that Japan and South Korea’s participation in the NATO summit is not necessary. Reasonable.
Xie Wensheng, an expert on Japan-China relations and executive director of the Taiwan Oasis Cultural and Educational Foundation, said that Japan and NATO have maintained extensive interactions between prime ministers and cabinet members over the past few years. Japan’s participation in the summit is not a sudden proposal. He pointed out that in March 2019, the Ministry of Defense of Japan had sent staff to study at NATO’s ‘Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE)’, and in June of that year, Japan also sent a liaison officer to the NATO Maritime Command to strengthen the relationship between Japan and NATO. connection between. In December 2020, NATO held a video conference of foreign ministers and invited Japan, South Korea and Australia to participate in the meeting to discuss how to deal with the rise of China‘s military power. Since then, Japan’s interaction with NATO has become more frequent and mesa.
He said: “This year, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces Chief of Staff Koji Yamazaki went to Brussels to attend the NATO Chiefs of Staff meeting in May. This was the first time that the Japanese Chiefs of Staff attended the meeting to share information on the security environment in the Indo-Pacific region. Chairman of the NATO Military Commission Rob Bauer visited Japan in June. At that time, Koji Yamazaki said at a press conference that Bauer’s visit was mainly to gain an in-depth understanding of the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and to strengthen the connection between Japan and NATO, which is the military committee of NATO. The chairman’s fourth official visit to the Japanese Ministry of Defense also prompted Japan to send two practice ships of the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Mediterranean Sea to conduct joint training with NATO’s permanent maritime force.”
Shin Takai, chairman of the Japan Institute for Security Strategy, said that Japan has been interacting with NATO more and more frequently in recent years because the two sides have conditions and willingness to cooperate in more fields, and now it can be said that it is a matter of course.
He said: “According to the 2015 NATO National Partnership Program (IPCP), Japan is engaged in cyber defense, maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, conventional weapons such as small arms, weapons of mass destruction and transport-related armament management, In priority areas of cooperation such as non-proliferation and disarmament, defense science and technology, women, peace, security, personal safety, public diplomacy, defense and security, and NATO to jointly promote pragmatic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, such as joint training, has been an important part of the future of the two sides. A good foundation has been laid for development.”
Takai Jin pointed out that according to Article 10 of the NATO Convention, only European countries are eligible to join NATO, so Japan is not eligible to join, and it is unlikely to join, but the cooperation between the two sides will become stronger and stronger.
becauseFOIP goes to regional leaders
Since the leaders of Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia will all attend this NATO summit, Fumio Kishida intends to take this opportunity to hold a meeting of the leaders of Japan, the United States and South Korea, as well as the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand in the Asia-Pacific region. people meeting.
In order to jointly deal with the threat from China, Kishida invited NATO’s four Asia-Pacific partners to discuss how to strengthen cooperation between the Indo-Pacific region and the European region, said Nobuyoshi Takai, chairman of the Japan Institute for Security Strategies.
He said: “In other words, all countries aim to achieve a “free and open Indo-Pacific region (FOIP)”, in order to confront China, which is strengthening its hegemony, the security guarantees of Europe and the Indo-Pacific region are now inseparable. Especially Russia After the invasion of Ukraine, countries in the Indo-Pacific region are even more worried that Beijing will follow Russia to invade Taiwan by force. Japan is a country in the Indo-Pacific region that can really change the balance of regional power and is improving its deterrence, so its role in Indo-Pacific security affairs is also more and more important.”
Takai Jin pointed out that Kishida will continue the opinion of the G7, and once again emphasized at the NATO summit that “anywhere in the world cannot allow force to unilaterally change the status quo”, and discuss with other countries how to jointly contain China‘s participation in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. the expansion of its hegemony.
Xie Wensheng, an expert on Japan-China relations and the executive director of the Taiwan Oasis Cultural and Educational Foundation, said that Japan’s participation in international politics after the war has always been low-key and has the meaning of “rehabilitation”. After publishing the “70 Years of Postwar Talk” to show that Japan has entered a new generation, and in 2016 at the African Development Conference in Kenya, he proposed the “Concept of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific”, and Japan has gradually moved towards the status of a regional leader.
He said: “Japan’s recent leaders, from Abe to Suga Yoshihide to Kishida, including all cabinet officials, have been tirelessly explaining the importance of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” to allies. Europe has been very important to China in recent years. The change of attitude cannot be said to be all due to Japan, but Japan is definitely the main driver in ‘accelerating its change’. The United States, Australia, India, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and even the European Union have each proposed India The strategy of the Pacific, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi is even connected to the European Union, Britain, France and Germany have said that they will send naval fleets to patrol the Indo-Pacific and even conduct joint military exercises, which means that Japan will play a more dominant role in confronting China. Gradually walk out of the international relations line with ‘Japan’s main body’.”