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2014年9月10日 (水)

南アジア外交 海洋安保協力を拡大したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Expand maritime security cooperation through diplomacy with South Asia
南アジア外交 海洋安保協力を拡大したい

Strengthening ties with economically vibrant nations on the rim of the Indian Ocean will be in Japan’s national interest. Long-term, strategic efforts should be made to ensure greater mutual benefits can be shared by both sides.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently completed a visit to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It was the first visit to Sri Lanka by a Japanese prime minister in 24 years, and the first to Bangladesh in 14 years.

Abe and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed during their talks to strengthen cooperation in maritime security. Abe announced a plan to provide Sri Lanka with patrol vessels free of charge to improve the South Asian nation’s coast guard capabilities.

The leaders also agreed the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Sri Lankan Navy will conduct joint training exercises.

Sri Lanka sits in a strategically important position near vital sea-lanes that link Japan and the Middle East. Ratcheting up maritime cooperation between Japan and Sri Lanka will also help keep China in check.

With a view to eventually establishing military bases overseas, China has been assisting the construction of port facilities in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other nations. This network of bases and docking facilities that will partially encircle India has been called the String of Pearls, and India, Japan and the United States are becoming increasingly vigilant about this development.

A long civil war that arose out of ethnic tensions ravaged Sri Lanka until 2009. While the United States and European nations criticized alleged human rights abuses that occurred during the war, China stepped up its support for Sri Lanka. In 2009, China overtook Japan as the biggest aid donor to Sri Lanka.

Ensuring sea-lanes remain safe is a foundation of free economic activity. Japan needs to work closely with the United States, coastal nations and other countries in pressing China to abide by international law and refrain from its self-righteous drive to expand its maritime rights and interests.

Seat all but in the bag

During his talks with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Abe agreed to promote investment by Japanese companies in that country. Both leaders agreed to boost bilateral trade. They also confirmed Japan would provide up to ¥600 billion in official development assistance over five years for the construction of major roads and other infrastructure.

With a population of 150 million people, Bangladesh has massive potential for economic growth. To tap this potential, it will be crucial for the private and public sectors to work closely together and steadily promote cooperation.

Hasina announced that Bangladesh will withdraw its candidacy for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council in the election to be held in October 2015 and will instead support Japan’s bid. With this, the likelihood of Japan winning the seat has increased significantly. The two-year mandate for the nonpermanent seat starts in 2016.

In the past, Japan has been elected as a nonpermanent member 10 times, more than any other U.N. member nation. Japan has lost a membership race just once — to Bangladesh. That nation’s decision to pull out of the upcoming race can be considered the culmination of Japan’s multifaceted diplomatic efforts.

Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Reform of the international body, including the Security Council, is the focus of much attention. It is essential for Japan to continue to make its voice heard in the United Nations, and actively participate in the creation of new U.N. rules.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 9, 2014)Speech


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