As Japan’s and Indonesia’s defence and foreign ministers met in Tokyo on Tuesday, the two countries pledged to improve military relations in the face of an assertive China. With the US continuously failing at providing any effective safeguards in the face of an increasingly belligerent China, Japan has taken the onus to provide the much-needed support.
Japan has been offering active military and diplomatic support and is emboldening states to rise against Chinese belligerence. Having already backed Taiwan and the Philippines in less than 10 days, Japan is ready to strengthen military ties with Indonesia. The two countries signed a pact on Tuesday allowing the transfer of Japanese defence equipment and technology to Jakarta.
“It’s getting hard to take for granted the premises that have been supporting peace and prosperity of the international community,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at the start of the meetings. “Today, I would like to hold talks to boost our broad-ranging cooperation to higher levels,” he added.
In an increasingly strained Sino-US relationship, Chinese territorial claims in the East and South China Seas have become a priority question, and Japan’s security concerns are important. The meetings come after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the area and cautioned China against “coercion and violence,” as well as Beijing’s attempts to harass neighbours with competing interests.
Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s foreign minister, has said she has been in touch with Motegi to address the Myanmar situation and COVID-19 responses. Retno has risen to prominence in the region as she attempts to broker talks with Myanmar’s military, which has killed over 500 demonstrators since staging a coup on February 1.
Myanmar is a country in which Japan has vast business interests and which receives official development assistance. Tokyo has denounced the killings but has resisted imposing restrictions on the military regime so far.
Indonesia is the third country in the region to have been backed by Japan in under 10 days. Following the humiliating thrashing the USA received at the hands of the Chinese, Japan has been active in drumming up support to countries that feel threatened by Chinese belligerence.
Just a couple of days after the Biden administration was berated in Alaska, Japan has started to participate more actively in the region’s security and stability. In recent meetings with their American counterparts, the Japanese have agreed to closely co-operate with US security forces in the event of a clash between China and Taiwan.
Given the continued non-compliance of China to recognize and respect the Japanese sovereign territories and waters, Japan no longer seems in the mood to stay on the defensive. China is now facing a bold and confident Japan, which will not only safeguard itself aggressively but will check any aggressive overreach by the CCP, even in the case of Taiwan.
More recently, with 200 Chinese fishing militia surrounding Whitsun Reef, a disputed island that falls under Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Philippine military ordered more navy ships to be deployed for “sovereignty patrols” in South China Sea. This certainly irked China, but in its reaction, it signalled out Japan, meaning that Japan had played a role in emboldening the Philippines against China.
Against Xi Jinping’s naval invasion of Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone, Japan has openly sided with the Philippines. Earlier, China was able to browbeat these countries into submission and take control of their territories with little opposition. With Japan’s support, the Philippines has summoned the confidence to deploy its navy around the region where the Chinese flotilla is gathered.
With the confidence in the United States leadership in freefall, Japan has taken the charge of the custodian in the East and South China Sea region. Japan has been charging ahead with the original Indo-Pacific idea and has also forced the US President Joe Biden to change his earlier narrative surrounding the Indo-Pacific.
Japan’s active participation is important for the region as the US fails to effectively safeguard the smaller nations against Chinese belligerence. While the US is actively getting thrashed by China on the international platform, Japan is surging ahead and providing the much-needed protection and support the smaller states in the region require.
Leave a Reply