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Editorial: Japan, U.S. should cooperate for freedom of navigation

  • 2015-11-20 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: November 20, 2015 – p. 2)


 One of the main topics of discussion in the talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama was how to deal with China’s construction of artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea.


 The meeting was very significant because the two leaders demonstrated the unity of the U.S.-Japan alliance, which protects ‘freedom of navigation’ and ‘the rule of law,’ and confirmed their policy of dealing with China together


 In connection with the U.S.’s “freedom of navigation” operations, including the passage of a U.S. military vessel waters near the artificial islands, President Obama emphasized that he will continue to “implement the operations as daily activities.”


 It makes perfect sense that Prime Minister Abe clearly expressed his support for the operations, saying, “Japan opposes any moves to unilaterally change the status quo.”


 The total area of China’s artificial islands has expanded six-fold compared to the end of last in less than one year. There is a pressing need to prevent China from changing the status quo by force.


 It is necessary for Japan to actively address the situation as its own security issue, as well as for the peace and stability of the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands.


 It can be said that the issue is a test of whether Japan and the U.S. can synchronize the Abe administration’s policy of proactive pacifism with the Obama administration’s policy of placing priority on Asia. Effective measures are required.


 The Japan-U.S. summit meeting was held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting hosted by the Philippines.


 It makes no sense that the issue of the South China Sea was not brought up at the APEC summit, where the leaders of the countries involved in the issue were assembled.


 According the Philippine Foreign Ministry, none of the leaders brought up the South China Sea issue even though it is certain that the construction of artificial islands threatens sea lanes and seriously affects economic activities.


 On the sidelines of the APEC summit, the Japanese and U.S. leaders held talks with President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines and urged Aquino to cooperate with them on the South China Sea issue.


 Japan and the U.S. should seriously reflect on the fact that they were outstripped by China’s diplomatic efforts to prevent the issue from becoming an item on the agenda for the APEC summit.


 The East Asia summit, which will be held in Malaysia on Nov. 22, is an arena to discuss political and security issues, among other things. Japan and the U.S. should aim to lead the discussions in the direction of not allowing China to control the South China Sea.


 We hope that Prime Minister Abe and President Obama will hold further bilateral talks and recover from the setback.

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