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Editorial: Japan should work to ease tensions amid provocations by N. Korea, China, Russia

North Korea on May 25 launched three ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan. According to the South Korean military, one of the three missiles appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile — potentially having almost the entire U.S. mainland within its range.


The missile tests have once again underscored the increasingly severe security environment in East Asia including Japan.


The firing of the missiles runs counter to a United Nations Security Council resolution and is in no way tolerable. The tests came shortly after U.S. President Joe Biden wrapped up his visit to Japan and South Korea, and Pyongyang’s move was apparently aimed as a warning to Japan, the U.S. and South Korea over their newly forged policy to step up collaboration in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs.


On May 24, Chinese and Russian bombers jointly flew over waters near Japan, just as the Quad summit was being held in Tokyo among leaders of Japan, the U.S., Australia and India.


In their joint statement, the Quad leaders made it clear that they oppose attempts to change the status quo by the use of force. While the statement avoided naming China and Russia, it was obvious they had the two counties in mind.


While Beijing and Moscow insist that their joint flight was a patrol mission, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi shared his view that it was a “demonstration” against the Quad summit. China and Russia are urged to refrain from resorting to actions that increase tensions.


Through its invasion of Ukraine, Russia trampled on the post-World War II international order that was built upon reflection on the two world wars waged in the 20th century. China, which is reinforcing its authoritarian profile, has avoided criticizing Russia’s military aggression while accelerating its own maritime advancement, raising tensions in the Taiwan Strait.


The Quad and the partnership between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea are frameworks aimed at dealing with such actions by China and Russia, through solidarity among nations that share democratic and other common values.


But if those alliances are merely bent on boosting their stance against Beijing and Moscow, they could risk raising tensions. If countries are divided into blocks as their mutual distrust deepens, not only will it destabilize regions, but it will also deal a serious blow to their economies.


Above all else, Japan is urged to map out a strategy on its approach to China.


Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi held an online meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi ahead of President Biden’s visit to Japan, and called for Beijing to urge Pyongyang to refrain from conducting nuclear tests. Securing China’s cooperation is also essential in enhancing the efficacy of Japan and other countries’ sanctions against Russia over the latter’s aggression in Ukraine.


All the more because the world is facing a difficult situation, Japan is called on to exhaust its diplomatic efforts to avoid tensions escalating any further.

  • Ambassador
  • G7 Summit
  • Ukraine