Japanese FM: It’s time to deepen cooperation

Japanese FM: It’s time to deepen cooperation
Опубликовано: Wednesday, 05 April 2023 04:49

Japan is determined to take the lead in maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order.

Yoshimasa Hayashi is the minister for foreign affairs of Japan.

The security of Europe and that of the Indo-Pacific region can no longer be discussed separately — that was my main message when I attended the NATO ministerial meeting last year for the first time as Japanese foreign minister.

Today’s complex and severe international security environment requires like-minded partners to intensify cooperation. This perception is widely shared among NATO members and partner countries, and cooperation has remarkably deepened throughout the past year.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visited Japan this January, where we shared views on the security environment in the Indo-Pacific and reaffirmed the need for like-minded countries to take united action — this includes our response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the most deplorable example of a unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force. We also discussed the future of Japan-NATO cooperation, and expressed our strong determination to elevate the Japan-NATO relationship to a new height in a joint statement.

Japan and NATO are currently in the process of formulating the Individually Tailored Partnership Program. And through this program, Japan intends to significantly strengthen its cooperation with NATO in many new areas, such as cybersecurity, outer space, disinformation and critical and emerging technologies, in addition to traditional areas of cooperation.

The Japan-NATO relationship has already proven its value by making steady progress in various fields. For example, following the earthquakes that occurred in southeastern Türkiye, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces dispatched aircraft to participate in a NATO-led airlift operation for disaster relief for the first time in history. It was a landmark moment, which demonstrated a new stage in the evolution of our cooperation.

Meanwhile, Japan and NATO have also opened a new chapter in our support for Ukraine.

Japan has so far announced support for Ukraine and its neighboring countries totaling approximately $7.6 billion. During his recent visit to Ukraine in March, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Japan had also decided to contribute $30 million to NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package Trust Fund to provide non-lethal equipment and supplies to Ukraine.

Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine will never be tolerated anywhere in the world. As such, it is crucial that NATO members and partner countries, including Japan, maintain their unity in supporting Ukraine, while implementing strict sanctions against Russia. This is essential to both end Russia’s aggression and deter similar attempts from happening in other parts of the world.

Turning to the Indo-Pacific, unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are continuing in the East and South China Seas, and military activities around Japan are intensifying. In addition, North Korea is escalating its provocations by launching ballistic missiles with an unprecedented frequency.

In response to what is the most complex and severe security environment since the end of World War II, Japan formulated a new National Security Strategy last December, which clearly states that Japan will fundamentally reinforce its defense capabilities and strengthen cooperation with NATO and other like-minded countries, in order to shore up and defend the free and open international order based on the rule of law.

Prime Minister Kishida recently announced Japan’s New Plan for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” as well. And in the plan, he articulated Japan’s vision, which emphasizes principles like the rule of law and inclusiveness — principles that have become even more relevant in leading the international community from division and confrontation to cooperation at a historical turning point.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visited Japan in January 2023 | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

These efforts cannot be made by Japan alone, and we welcome the enhanced engagement of NATO, its members and partner countries in the Indo-Pacific.

As Japan takes on the G7 presidency this year, our country is determined to take the lead in maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law. I look forward to working in lockstep with NATO, its member countries and partners to continue promoting peace and prosperity in the world.

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