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2013年1月21日 (月)

東南アジア歴訪 連携して台頭中国と向き合え

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 20, 2013)
Abe Cabinet must seek cooperation to face China
東南アジア歴訪 連携して台頭中国と向き合え(1月19日付・読売社説)

Keeping Southeast Asia peaceful and open is in the joint interest of the international community. Japan needs to face a rising China by closely cooperating with other countries.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia on his first overseas trip after taking office. During summit meetings, Abe and his counterparts agreed to further bolster strategic partnerships, including those concerning security.

The three countries--key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations--have close trade and investment ties with Japan. Ahead of Abe's visit, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso visited Myanmar while Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida made a trip to the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries.

With such ministerial tours, the Abe Cabinet has demonstrated its stance of focusing on ASEAN countries, a diplomatic push into the region apparently made with China in mind.

At a press conference in Jakarta, Abe listed new principles for his administration's Asian diplomacy. They included calls for respect for democracy and other universal values, a free and open economy and developing maritime order not by force but by law and rules.


China's growing presence

As for China, Abe said, "It's important [for that country] to take responsible action in the international community."

Abe was apparently referring to China's repeated diplomatic intimidation using warships over the sovereignty of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China has also threatened Japan's territorial rights to the Senkaku Islands by taking provocative action to claim sovereignty over the islets.

Abe's remarks may have engendered sympathy from not only countries that have territorial rows with China but also from nations currently under pressure from Beijing.

In recent years, China's presence in Asia has increased dramatically. ASEAN has found it difficult to reach a consensus on restraining China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, as some of its members are close to Beijing.

A situation in which ASEAN yields to China's might and caters to the country's demands must be avoided.

In light of this, calls are growing for Japan to develop a strategic diplomacy.

One approach is deciding for Japan to participate in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and putting the deal into force quickly.


Materialize diplomatic efforts

Abe is expected to visit the United States as early as February to hold talks with President Barack Obama. For Japan, boosting its relationship with ASEAN is vital also to rebuild trust with the United States, which has rolled out a foreign policy that refocuses on Asia.

On his three-country tour, Abe said Japan will work with these countries to develop their social infrastructure, through means such as exports of high-speed railway systems and nuclear power generation systems. Such cooperation would also contribute to Japan's economic growth, the top priority for the Abe administration.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN friendship and cooperation. By taking advantage of various opportunities, we hope the Abe administration will bring its strategic diplomacy into shape.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 19, 2013)
(2013年1月19日01時43分  読売新聞)


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