ASEAN, Japan vow to ensure air, sea safety in region
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] and Japan are calling for “free and safe maritime navigation and aviation” in the region.
“Recognizing the benefits of enhanced connectivity between ASEAN and Japan, we agreed to strengthen cooperation on air and maritime linkages,” the two parties said recent ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit marking the 40th year of friendship and cooperation between the regional group and Japan.
“We also agreed to enhance cooperation in ensuring the freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS] and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO].
The leaders of the 10-member regional bloc and Japan underscored the importance of maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region as well as promoting maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce.
They noted the significance of exercising self-restraint and resolving disputes by peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the UNCLOS.
“We resolved to enhance maritime security and safety cooperation, such as information sharing and capacity building including through the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum,” the statement said.
ASEAN, Japan to work together for regional peace, security
ASEAN and Japanese officials said they realize the role they could play to address regional and global challenges.
“We recognized the need to further strengthen regional cooperation frameworks for peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region,” the statement said.
They stressed the importance of ASEAN’s “centrality” in the “evolving regional architecture” through the “various ASEAN-led processes” that include the ASEAN Plus Three [APT], the East Asia Summit [EAS], the ASEAN Regional Forum [ARF] and the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus [ADMM-Plus], “all of which Japan has been an important part.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted in his speech before the leaders that Japan aims to be more virtuous as a nation and its people more upstanding as the country looks forward to hosting the Olympic Games in seven years.
Abe said “it won’t do” for the country to make such efforts in isolation. He said it is a Japan that grows together with ASEAN that can best work toward these goals.
“Indeed, we will succeed by working together with an ASEAN with which we share a vision, an identity, and most of all, a future,” he said.
Abe announced that Japan will forge in the next seven years a new cultural exchange policy that will strengthen the links with ASEAN.
“It means linking together with each other, our sights set on stability and peace and greater prosperity,” Abe said.
“The support of the international community, particularly of Japan and our brothers in ASEAN, tells us the Philippines is not alone in confronting the many different concerns of our time, one of which is the need to effectively manage and prepare for natural calamities,” Aquino said.
He stressed the need for all to contribute significantly in combating climate change by coming up with an equitable mechanism to which every nation, corporation and individual can adhere.
Possible new ADIZ is worrisome
Aquino said the Philippines’ call for peace and stability in the region is amplified by recent developments in the East China Sea. China’s establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone [ADIZ] raises concerns over international civil aviation, safety and security, he said.
“We all should view with greater concern recent pronouncements of Chinese officials that China will establish other ADIZ’s in due course,” Aquino said.
Both the Philippines and Japan are locked in separate territorial disputes with China concerning the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
Aquino said it is in the interest of the country and the region that his government is pursuing a two-track complementary approach to disputes in the “sea known by many names.”
He said this approach is both peaceful and rules-based. The Philippines, he stressed, is advocating the conclusion of the legally binding code of conduct as soon as possible. At the same time, the country is pursuing arbitration before the United Nations.
“The Philippines views arbitration as an internationally recognized forum for the peaceful settlement of disputes. In addition to clarifying entitlements and the corresponding obligations, arbitration promotes the rule of law and redounds to the benefit of all parties,” he said.
Japan to ‘closely coordinate’ with the Philippines
Abe said he is willing to address regional and international issues in closer coordination with Aquino.
In his remarks following a separate luncheon meeting and bilateral talks with Aquino, Abe said they have developed “stronger personal trust” after attending the past three summit meetings.
“Given the increasingly difficult regional security environment, I am willing to address regional and other international issues under much closer coordination with the president,” Abe said.
Richard Jacobson, director of Pacific Strategies and Assessments [PSA] Philippines, said Abe appears to have embarked on a strategy designed to check China’s expansionism. Consequently, he said, there will be even more public efforts to strengthen the United States-Japan strategic and defense alliance.
Jacobson said China could be waiting for the framework agreement between Washington, D.C., and Manila on U.S. troops in the Philippines before China decides on any new military initiatives in the South China Sea.
“The U.S. and the Philippines have yet to conclude their negotiations that would enhance the U.S. military presence in the South China Sea region. China could well be waiting for that treaty to be completed before it decides on any new military initiatives in this region,” Jacobson said.
Jean Magdaraog Cordero