National / Politics

With eye on China, Tokyo seeks stronger Japan-ASEAN defense cooperation

JIJI

With the rise of China in mind, Defense Minister Taro Kono on Sunday called for strengthening defense cooperation between the country and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

At a meeting in Bangkok with counterparts from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states Kono, who took office in September, specifically proposed the “Vientiane Vision 2.0,” an updated version of the Japan-ASEAN defense cooperation guidelines dubbed the “Vientiane Vision,” launched in 2016.

The updated version is intended to boost Japan’s presence and keep a check on China, which has been stepping up its military presence in the South China Sea.

The Vientiane Vision 2.0 sets three priority areas — ensuring the rule of law, strengthening maritime security and offering cooperation in response to disasters and other emergency situations.

Based on the revised guidelines, Japan plans to transfer its defense equipment and related technologies to, and expand joint exercises with, ASEAN. It will also send Self-Defense Forces members to each of the ASEAN nations to provide training on international rules in the maritime and aviation fields.

Earlier on Sunday, Kono held a bilateral meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, who doubles as defense minister. They signed a memorandum of understanding on promoting the two countries’ defense exchanges.