Overseas reactions to Tuesday’s Lower House passage of bills related to updated Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines ranged from the warm welcome extended by Washington to the “deep concern” aired by neighboring China.
“We welcome the progress in the Diet’s deliberations,” said State Department spokesman James Rubin in Washington after the bills cleared a Lower House panel Monday. “We are confident that this legislation, when finally enacted, will enable the U.S. and Japan to respond quickly and flexibly to any contingencies that might arise.”
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said Tuesday that the passing of the bills, aimed at facilitating Japan-U.S. cooperation in emergencies in unspecified “areas surrounding Japan,” could “adversely effect regional security.”
Japan has enthusiastically sought enhanced military cooperation with the U.S., even though this is “against the trend of the times” in which international and regional conditions have become less tense, Sun said.
But in Taipei, Chen Peng-jen, director of the ruling Nationalist Party’s history commission, praised the bills as a contribution “to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”
He said it was “a matter of common sense” that the Taiwan Strait separating Taiwan from the Chinese mainland should fall within the scope of the guidelines, given that much of Japan’s supplies, such as oil, pass through it.
Southeast Asia in general took the chamber’s approval of the bills in stride, with many analysts saying they did not foresee Japan’s Self-Defense Forces turning into an aggressive force.