Destabilizing speculation

EDITORIAL | To NATO, Kishida pledges a stronger Japan to help advance world peace

Japan Racing Association

After his appearance at the G7 summit, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida then attended the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain. Kishida was the first Japanese prime minister to attend a 30-nation Western Defense Alliance summit.

We welcome the mutual reaffirmation by Japan and NATO that the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific region should be considered indivisible, as well as their agreement to elevate their cooperative ties to a new level.

In Europe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues unabated. Meanwhile, in the Indo-Pacific, China is trying to unilaterally alter the status quo by flexing its military muscle in the South and East China Seas. North Korea, too, has been busy building up its arsenal of nuclear weapons and missiles.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Beijing, China, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Guidelines for a new era

Among the most notable outcomes of this latest NATO summit, NATO allies specifically expressed concern that Russia and China are destabilizing global security. They also took a clear stance of wanting to work closely with Japan and other regional partners to prepare for an increasingly difficult new era.

The revised Strategic Concept, intended to serve as a model for NATO for the next decade, identifies the Russian Federation as the “most significant and direct threat” to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.

The strategic concept also mentions China for the first time, expressing a strong sense of mistrust towards this country by referring to the “systemic challenges posed by the PRC”. The language used here refers to concerns expressed about the former Soviet Union during the era of the East-West Cold War.

The report clearly reflects the growing fear over the threat posed by greater collaboration between Russia and China. Beijing adamantly refuses to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is actually strengthening its economic relations with that country.

In addition, Chinese and Russian warships have recently operated in a coordinated fashion near Japan. Since last October, joint flotillas of Russian and Chinese warships have circumnavigated the Japanese archipelago. Obviously, such collusion is designed to intimidate Japan.

NATO has also decided to increase the size of its Multinational Rapid Deployment Corps by more than 30,000 from the current 40,000 soldiers from next year.

Expand NATO

At the NATO summit, Turkey, which had been the only NATO member to oppose Finland and Sweden joining, flip-flopped and dropped its previous opposition to the candidacies. Scandinavian nations to join the alliance.

This represented a big step forward for the inclusion of the two northern European countries in the alliance. Once that happens, NATO’s borders with Russia will stretch from Northern Europe to Eastern Europe.

The invasion of Ukraine naturally led to the adoption of policies aimed at strengthening NATO defenses, which will in turn contribute to peace and security in Europe. It is ironic that although Vladimir Putin’s regime sought to justify its illegal invasion of Ukraine with its aversion to any NATO presence near Russia, it ended up bringing about its own strategic defeat.

One might have expected NATO to be preoccupied with the danger posed by Russia. It should therefore be noted that it has not wavered in its position on security issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region. Along with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the leaders of Australia, New Zealand and South Korea were also invited to participate in the NATO Partnership Session, as NATO sought to strengthen its cooperation with what it called its partner countries.

An international promise

Prime Minister Kishida made an important point during his remarks when he noted, “Russian aggression against Ukraine clearly heralded the end of the post-Cold War era.”

He also said, “I feel a strong sense of crisis that Ukraine could be East Asia tomorrow.” The Prime Minister’s analysis of our times and international conditions was perfect.

The question now is how Japan, which has China, North Korea and Russia as neighbors, can gain the trust of the United States and other NATO members while deepening cooperation with them in the field of security.

It is now absolutely essential that Japan make efforts to strengthen its security that are equal to or better than those of NATO members.

The security policies unveiled recently by NATO members are faster and larger scale than those of Japan. Beginning with Germany, one NATO member after another has declared that they are now ready to meet NATO’s goal of “defence spending of at least 2% of GDP”. ” (gross domestic product).

The joining of the two Scandinavian countries and the reinforcement of the Rapid Deployable Corps are also accelerated. In addition, NATO countries also provide Ukraine with arms and ammunition so that it can resist the Russian invaders.

During his speech at the summit, Prime Minister Kishida made the following wish to NATO and its partner countries: “We will fundamentally strengthen our defense capabilities over the next five years and I am determined to obtain an appropriate increase in our defense spending to support such reinforcement. .”

Increase confidence

It is now up to Japan to impress the nations that have consistently outperformed Japan in defense efforts, demonstrating exactly what it means to “fundamentally strengthen” and “appropriately augment” in terms of scale and speed.

If Japan fails to establish defense capabilities commensurate with its economic size and the difficult security environment in which it exists, and does not demonstrate sufficient deterrence or crisis response capability or of sufficient diplomatic weight, it will cause disillusionment among NATO members. The result may be that Japan loses the opportunity to cooperate globally with NATO in the cause of peace.

Prime Minister Kishida must show that he remains aware of the importance of the international commitment he has made. Japan is currently in the midst of an election campaign for the Upper House of the Diet.

This is the moment for the Prime Minister to explain to the public in understandable terms the great expectations of NATO members towards Japan, as well as the importance and the reasons for the establishment of a national defense capability. sufficient.

(Read the editorial in Japanese at this link.)

Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun