Asahi wrote that Defense Minister Inada announced Japan’s “Vientiane Vision” initiative to promote defense cooperation with ASEAN nations during a meeting with her ASEAN counterparts on Wednesday in Vientiane. With China’s maritime advancement in mind, Inada called on her ASEAN counterparts to strengthen cooperation in maritime surveillance and search and rescue operations at sea. Inada told reporters after the meeting that in place of force the rule of law will be firmly upheld through Japan and the ASEAN nations strengthening their defense capabilities and sharing common values.
Yomiuri also reported on Inada’s meeting with her ASEAN counterparts, saying that the defense minister expressed Japan’s readiness to assist the ASEAN nations in countering cyberattacks and disposing of mines and unexploded bombs. Although Japan’s support for the ASEAN nations is intended to strengthen its ties with ASEAN, it probably will not be easy for Japan to win them over to its side because they are taking a wait-and-see stance between Japan and China and it is unclear what kind of policy toward Asia the U.S. will adopt under the Trump administration.