Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks at a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday. Photo: AP/Dita Alangkara, Pool
politics

Suga says Japan not looking to form 'Asian NATO' to contain any specific country

39 Comments
By Kiyoshi Takenaka

Japan opposes any actions that escalate tension in the East and South China Seas, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday as he wrapped up a trip to Vietnam and Indonesia, but he added Tokyo was not aiming at an "Asian NATO" to contain any specific country.

Suga's four-day visit to the two Southeast Asian countries, his first overseas trip since taking office last month, is part of Japan's efforts to bolster ties with key regional countries amid concerns about China's growing assertiveness in the region.

"Japan is opposed to any actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea. Let me stress anew the importance of all the countries concerning the South China Sea issues not resorting to force or coercion, but working toward peaceful resolutions of the disputes based on international law," Suga told a news conference in Jakarta.

"Our response in the South China Sea is not aimed at any one country," Suga said, when asked if Japan wanted to create an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Suga's Southeast Asia trip follows a meeting in Tokyo this month of the “Quad”, an informal grouping of India, Australia, Japan and the United States that Washington sees as a bulwark against China’s growing regional influence.

China has denounced the grouping of the four democracies as a "mini-NATO" aimed at containing its development.

Suga must balance Japan’s deep economic ties with China with security concerns, including Beijing’s growing push to assert claims over disputed East China Sea isles. Some in his ruling party want to see a harder line, after ties warmed under his predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

"Japan is determined to defend its territory, territorial waters and air space," Suga said, adding Japan also opposed actions that raised tensions in the East China Sea.

Several members of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have territorial disputes with China in the vital South China Sea, but are wary of alienating the group's major economic partner and getting entangled in an intense confrontation between Washington and Beijing.

But some welcome Japan's greater engagement in the region.

Suga agreed with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday to speed up talks on the export of Japanese defense equipment and technology to Indonesia and have their defense and foreign ministers meet soon.

A day earlier, the Japanese leader and Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc also agreed in principle on a military equipment and technology export pact.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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Well said Suga. QUAD is not an "Asian NATO". It is a group of nations that, at its core, believes in Rule of Law, freedom and democracy, and standing up against lawless rogue nations. Hopefully QUAD will become bigger and stronger in coming years with SE Asian nations getting on board.

Any protests from the Commies is just jealousy and fear. They should always be ignored.

8 ( +21 / -13 )

Suga says Japan not looking to form 'Asian NATO' to contain any specific country

That'll be a yes, then. Coming to a theatre near you.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Well said Suga. QUAD is not an "Asian NATO

But it should be. It is up to Japan to lead the international order. The American shogun is in decline. It is Japan's turn to lead the world. The free nations of the world should look towards to Tokyo for leadership.

-6 ( +15 / -21 )

China needs to be put in check ny some one in the region, good on Japan for stepping up to the plate.

All other nations in the region need to make a stand too. Peaceful moves against the bully by forming firm relationships with others is always a good move.

9 ( +19 / -10 )

@Fighto!

Well said Suga. QUAD is not an "Asian NATO". It is a group of nations that, at its core, believes in Rule of Law, freedom and democracy

These lofty terms are increasingly meaningless in a world where the supposed foremost champion of them (the US) descends into lawless anti-democratic authoritarian rules, and increasingly breaks international law and increments (Paris accord, Iran agreement, NATO responsibilities, strategic nuclear disarmament, the list goes on).

The faster the world finds and switches to a new framework of prototypical national governance, the better - one not subject to the whims of gerrymandered voter districts, voter suppression, an uneducated public, indoctrinating television that claims to not be news (so as to not break broadcasting laws) yet is still allowed to keep the word “news” in its name (guess who), thus making a wide swathe of the population firmly entrenched in deeply extremist and unhinged right-wing views that have no basis in reality, and finally that is not subject to disinformation campaigns online by hostile nations.

And, sadly, so far the leader in this game of a succeeding world order is frankly China - with its effective governance (might not agree with the methods, but no one can deny their effectiveness), wildly successful strategic soft power (belt and road initiative etc), and efficient use of “bootstrapping” to upgrade its technology and military capabilities (stealing/adopting advanced nations’ technology and adapting it rather than building from scratch).

As much as one would like Japan to play a significant role here, the fact that it’s still under the sway of the US means not only that its influence will be ineffective but also that its fate, for good or ill, is largely intertwined with that of its supposed protector and guarantor.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

good move Japan. Look at how US threaten NATO by Trump grumbling about it, dont fall into another american's trap anymore. commies or not, the only winner in this QUAD is US, God knows how many "protection" fees will go into their pockets every year.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

There are a number of practical challenges for an Asian NATO. For Japan, its constructional restraints are still strong, keeping SDF from fully practicing collective defense with other potential allies than the US.

Suga says Japan not looking to form 'Asian NATO' to contain any specific country

He means not to seek it "for the time being" and aims to contain "specific oppressive regime hijacking a country and its people (e.g. ISIS, Taliban). China under the CPP could be put on the target list.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

This is kinda strange. Suga could have announced this statement in Vietnam, instead in Indonesia. There would be no repercussions if he announced this statement in Vietnam.

But it should be. It is up to Japan to lead the international order. The American shogun is in decline. It is Japan's turn to lead the world. The free nations of the world should look towards to Tokyo for leadership.

This is far from reality.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I love how he says Japan is opposed to actions that raise tensions in the region, and then, "Suga agreed with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday to speed up talks on the export of Japanese defense equipment and technology to Indonesia and have their defense and foreign ministers meet soon."

More of the, "Trust me" thinking they can play both sides without them noticing that plagues Japanese leaders. Always makes me chuckle... "Iran, yes, we support sanctions on you and other nations that get oil from you, but please cooperate and continue to give us oil. America, please don't sanction only us as we continue to do the very thing you declared you'll sanction nations for. It would be regrettable." etc. etc.

-3 ( +11 / -14 )

Tokyo was not aiming at an "Asian NATO" to contain any specific country.

Correct. Japan has no interest in playing international hardball. But they will align with the United States and other allies who are seeking a coalition bloc to stop China's expansion as keeping the South China Sea free and navigable international waters is necessary for their existence.

Japan is opposed to any actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea

That means Japan is opposed to China's unilateral territorial expansion in the South and East China Seas and their ridiculous 9-Dash Line which has been ruled illegal by the Permanent Court of Arbitration under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

14 ( +19 / -5 )

When any regional group of nations get together it worries China. China says it is an attempt to contain its development. Nothing could be further from the truth as the amount of foreign investment going into China from companies from Quad nations and other nations in the region remain very high. Trade with China has only been tempered by Trumps trade war that could be over soon. China's development is managing just fine. What the Quad does it contain China's aggression and plans of conquest to create its new much larger empire under Xi. To limit China's ability to coerce other nations to comply with Beijing's wishes against what their own countries wishes are.

This does not make China happy. Which means it needs to continue and be strengthened. America may bounce back to sanity once Trump is gone. It will take many executive orders to remove all the damage he did in four years and earning the trust of allies will take time and effort. It will be worth it.

Let us hope Suga is able to make Japan a positive contributor to joint efforts by the Quad and other regional partners. China is its own worst enemy right now, and needs to chill out. Much like Trump. What a coincidence.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

"Japan is opposed to any actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea"

Does this mean that Japan will cease sending its warships into the South China Sea to threaten China?

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Does this mean that Japan will cease sending its warships into the South China Sea to threaten China?

What makes you think Japan sailing in International waters in the South China sea is a threat to anyone? That makes no sense at all.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

What makes you think Japan sailing in International waters in the South China sea is a threat to anyone? That makes no sense at all.

Then what is the problem with China adding some buildings and airstrips on China controlled reefs in scs?

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Then what is the problem with China adding some buildings and airstrips on China controlled reefs in scs?

Those man made constructs are either in international waters or the EEZ of other nations and China has no right to be there. They, like any nation can sail in International waters whenever they like. They can sail through EEZ of other nations but building bases in those areas is not permitted under International law. Their claim has been dismissed by the PCA. But you already knew that, like everyone who reads the news.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

"Japan is opposed to any actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea," Suga told a news conference in Jakarta.

The hypocrisy is brain-melting:

"The U.S. conducts many land and sea exercises in the Pacific region. One of the most confrontational exercises is the Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) which are designed to challenge “excessive coastal state claims over the world’s oceans as reflected in the UN Law of the Sea Convention.”

In spring 2017, the Trump administration stopped FONOPs in the South China Sea hoping China might increase its pressure on North Korea to stop missile tests. But by summer 2017, the U.S. restarted them with six FONOPs in 2017 and five operations in 2018. A record number of U.S FONOPs in South China Sea with a total of nine Freedom of Navigation operations were conducted in 2019.

In 2020, The Trump administration has dramatically increased the number of Freedom of Navigation missions. The first FONOP of 2020 was on Jan. 25 with the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery sailing past Chinese claims in the Spratly Islands. During that operation, China responded by sending two fighter-bombers to fly close to the USS Montgomery.

In early July 2020, the U.S. sent two aircraft carrier strike groups, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups, to conduct dual carrier operations in the South China Sea".

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/16/danger-in-the-south-china-sea/

It's the US which is escalating tension in the South China Sea.

-8 ( +11 / -19 )

It's the US which is escalating tension in the South China Sea.

Sailing and doing exercises in International waters raises no tensions. What does raise tensions in the region is one country attempting to claim international waters and air space as its sovereign territory unilaterally. Constructing bases close to other countries and well withing other nations EEZ.

China militarized those bases and the South China sea and increases tensions with all nations in the region.

China is the only destabilizing influence.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

And, sadly, so far the leader in this game of a succeeding world order is frankly China - with its effective governance (might not agree with the methods, but no one can deny their effectiveness), wildly successful strategic soft power (belt and road initiative etc), and efficient use of “bootstrapping” to upgrade its technology and military capabilities (stealing/adopting advanced nations’ technology and adapting it rather than building from scratch).

That used to be the case like 10 years ago, not anymore. Huawei essentially has no competition in the 5G sector. Who would they be bootstrapping from?

Also, Chinese soft power? Are you serious? Soft power is another term for media power. Who controls the "international media"? America. International media is American media. The whole world watches American media and get brainwashed into hating China with lies and disinformation. American media is currently involved in a ruthless anti-Chinese disinformation campaign, yet you think China has any soft power.

and finally that is not subject to disinformation campaigns online by hostile nations.

This has to be the most laughable and bizarre thing anyone can ever say. It's amazing how the bully of the world - America has such a massive victim complex. America is the one going around the world bullying countries into banning Huawei, including England, Germany, Australia, Japan and so on, bullying them to stop doing business with China OR ELSE, putting crippling sanctions on any nation that it dislikes, carpet bombing the entire middle east, and is currently engaged in the most ruthless disinformation campaign i have never seen in my entire life against China, yet people like you are indoctrinated to believe America is a victim of a foreign disinformation campaign. Americans are never exposed to any foreign news media or information. If they were, they would know just how brutal their own government is. In America, there is a total and complete one-sidedness of information about China, Iran and Russia. Anyone who tries to give you the Chinese side of the story is instantly deemed as "CCP bot", "CCP shill" or "CCP paid propagandist". The Julian Assange news were completely cut off from the media. US killings of innocent people in other countries cut off from the media. Killing sanctions cut off from the media. US sponsoring separatism in China cut off from the media. Terrorism in China cut off from the media, instead they only cover how they "crack down on muslims" without mentioning who those muslims were. The list goes on and on. Despite all this and more, people like you believe they are the victim of a foreign disinformation campaign? My goodness. When was the last time you actually watched a foreign media, or were exposed to any foreign information?

THIS is what i call the power of the US media empire. It's a power that no other country has, and is unlikely to even come close to having in the next 100 years. There is a reason why the public opinion in Germany has shifted towards being negative of America. Majority of Germans now view America in a negative light, and now just Germany, most European countries do. It's not because of foreign disinformation campaign making them hate America, it's because of what YOU do to them that never gets covered in your propaganda machine.

What makes you think Japan sailing in International waters in the South China sea is a threat to anyone? That makes no sense at all.

Right. So you're telling me if China conducts a military drill in the Gulf of Mexico, America will just be cool with it? If that ever happens, you can be sure that Americans will be calling for war with China. China is entirely surrounded by US bases. You have to be either incredibly naive or incredibly dishonest to think that isn't provoking them.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

I've often wondered what the reaction would be were China, Russia or Iran operated their Navy in the Pacific coast of US or Gulf of Mexico but....they respect the US' Monroe doctrine..enough not to.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

@Fighto! - the word 'Commies' that you use so often is antediluvian and childish. Surely you can describe the Chinese government and CCP like everyone else. Or are you that hate-filled?

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

Japan cannot join a NATO like military alliance because that requires giving up territorial claims against Russia, Korea, Taiwan and possibly China, in order to protect the collective from being dragged into certain member’s historical disputes triggered war.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Trevor

The word commies can be applied to any country that's communist including the former USSR who people use to call them commies, doesn't have to be Chinese, or part of the CCP party.

Worst things have been said about Japan and I never see you say anything about that part.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Over the last few weeks, the "powerful force for good" Suga appears to be an effective communicator and has done a good job for the interests of Japan, the Quad, and smaller Southeast Asian states who reject China's aggressive expansion in the Southeast Asia Sea.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I guess the next part of my lifetime is WWII continued with a still alive Russia, a new China, and the rest taking sides.

Thank goodness that Japan, America, Australia, Vietnam, and India represent a different (better imo) life.

China and Russia’s MO must not become world standard.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Japan cannot join a NATO like military alliance because that requires giving up territorial claims against Russia, Korea, Taiwan and possibly China, in order to protect the collective from being dragged into certain member’s historical disputes triggered war.

I do not agree. Japan can join a "NATO" like organization if it alters Article 9 of its constitution. Japan would need to be able to join collective defense of other members, as they would defend Japan and its territories if required.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Suga says Japan not looking to form 'Asian NATO' to contain any specific country

No specific country, eh? He is very diplomatic. Of course everybody knows who is Voldemort.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@Peter14

Japan can join a "NATO" like organization if it alters Article 9 of its constitution.

Again, "Resolve all outstanding territorial disputes before joining" rule of NATO was designed to protect the collective from being dragged into individual member's historical disputes.

But no Japanese PM can renounce Japan's territorial claims against Russia, Korea, and Taiwan, that's a political suicide. Hence Japan joining a NATO like organization is an impossibility.

Ditto for Korea, which claims North Korea as its territory.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

"Resolve all outstanding territorial disputes before joining" rule of NATO

Rules to join NATO do not apply to a brand new arrangement. They will design the rules to suit the nations involved. As long as the members do not have territorial disputes with other members it would not be an issue.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

"Resolve all outstanding territorial disputes before joining" rule of NATO

NATO nations with long standing territorial disputes.

Spain V UK over Gibraltar.

Greece V Turkey over Cyprus.

Just to name two.

All were allowed into NATO regardless.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Japan's playing with fire, and will get burnt, majority of Americans will not support the defense of Japan ,why continue to play with fire

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

North Korea missile base is located 691 miles from Tokyo, it will take less than 10 minute to reach central Tokyo,why why act like a paper tiger

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I called it! Suga is the right man for Prim Minister.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Not looking to form an Asian NATO. That's why China, Russia, and North Korea were all given gold-plated invitations.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Japan as well as other Asian nations most certainly can join a "NATO-Like organization", the purpose of which is to resist and prevent China's unilateral territorial expansion. In this instance the complete resolution of all disputes prior to joining would not apply because it is China itself that is the party to most of the disputes.

The tern "Nato-Like" is just that, an organized collective defense agreement. Not "exactly" a carbon copy of Nato.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

YrralToday 02:45 am JST

North Korea missile base is located 691 miles from Tokyo, it will take less than 10 minute to reach central Tokyo,why why act like a paper tiger

So your advice would be to do nothing and be at the mercy and whims of North Korea and its arsenal of long range missiles? How is that a better course of action? North Korea has unstable leadership. China takes advantage of the weak and bullies them into doing things Beijing wants.

The only viable option for a free and prosperous Japan is to stand up to those bullies and tell them that Japan will not be cowed into submission. Japan will make its own choices and follow the international rules of law, remain a vibrant democracy and defend its freedoms against anyone wanting to take them away. Japan will make friends and even allies as and when it chooses to and nobody will be permitted to interfere. Japan has its own unique foreign policy and has often said no to US requests, just as it often agrees and says yes or yes with conditions. If you push Japan or threaten Japan then be prepared. If you attack Japan then the gloves come off and anything that follows is on you (who ever you are).

8 ( +9 / -1 )

China has really pissed off the ASEAN and India. Such a wonderful geopolitical opportunity for Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rule of Law, freedom and democracy,

Well if that is the notional basis for the Quad then India has no business in it. They have become a bigoted authoritarian Hindu theocracy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thank goodness that Japan, America, Australia, Vietnam, and India represent a different (better imo) life.

Eh, about the only difference between the governments of Vietnam and China is their mutual emnity. As far as how they are organized and how they treat their people (one party police states with no private land ownership and state control of everything) Vietnam is no different than China. Both are horrible in my opinion. India is a hot mess devolving into an authoritarian Hindu theocracy. They are walking away from their democratic traditions to promote the Hindu faith over all else. The only virtues (excuse me while I swallow my vomit) of Vietnam and India is they both hate China and seem willing to commit some resources to a mutual defense against the Chinese. But please do not elevate either nation to the ranks of Japan, Australia or the US. Neither has any tolerance for political opposition or free speech. Neither allows true religious freedom.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

China claims it is the innocent party in all this? Yet, it states it does not agree with the UN that the SCS is open sea.

China also used warships to try and stop nations like Vietnam mapping the sea floor off its own coast, under the UN agreement, so it could claim its own marine economic zone, open to all nations with a coastline.

Instead, China claims ALL of the SCS as its personal domain!

Add to this The Spratley Islands.

China says it owns them and bullied the traditional claimant into backing down.

China then claims it will make a fishing island base out of them.

So China builds a harbour and fills it with warships, builds a bomber landing strip, erects a 200 strong armed garrison on the island, scatters a ton of anti aircraft weaponry and finally, the Spratleys are ready for fishing...

But what are they fishing for?

Why build another six islands across the SCS with similar 'fishing equipment' on them?

Gee, there must be BIG FISH in the SCS!

It is onvious to anyone that China wants to grow to a military size so no one will challenge it, just like other bully nations, but, do we really want another one?

The New Emperor has GLOBAL PLANS!

Wake up quickly fish!

To do nothing will be disasterous for everyone.

Think of it this way;

Had Hitler not been stopped when he was, he would have been unstoppable with jet fighters and long range missiles armed with atomic warheads.

China has ALL the modern warfare weaponry at its disposal right now.

If we remain silent, meekly accepting its outrageous totalitarian plans, bit by bit, it will continue to spread its net.

That includes Australia and Honshu, both of which it says it helped the "natives" centuries ago, therefore they belong to China!

China's massive military build up, which remains unrelenting and across all services, including the 'exotic', (amazing what a little virus can do eh?), so to conclude we should do nothing and all shall be well, is self defeating and very naive.

We all want to live together in peace, but that only works if all nations agree to a mutual respect of borders and rights.

Yes America has been a bully to lots of small nations, so have a lot of smaller nations to themselves and others.

The question is, do we need another belligerent global power, ready to drive its tanks down that 'one road' and strangle our sovereign rights with its 'one belt'?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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