On June 22, 2022, Minister of Defense KISHI attended the 7th ASEAN-Japan Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting in Cambodia. A brief summary of the meetings is as below
The 7th ASEAN-Japan Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at which the Ministers exchanged views about deepening defense cooperation between Japan and ASEAN.
he Cambodian Minister of National Defence, General Tea Banh, opened the meeting by describing Japan as one of the most important countries for ASEAN and expressing his appreciation for the defense cooperation that Japan has proactively provided to ASEAN.
Minister Kishi delivered a speech under the theme of “Japan-ASEAN cooperation as we look forward to a post-COVID-19 era” and stated as follows.
At the outset, Minister Kishi pointed out that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine goes against the respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and it is not only a problem in Europe, but also in the Indo-Pacific region including Southeast Asia.
Minister Kishi expressed that as a trusted partner, Japan will strongly promote various initiatives under the Vientiane Vision 2.0.
Minister Kishi announced that Japan will resume full-fledged, face-to-face defense exchanges and cooperation in order to further strengthen Japan-ASEAN cooperation. He also stated that the 12th Japan-ASEAN Defense Vice-Ministerial Forum will be held this year for the first time in three years, to facilitate Japan-ASEAN defense cooperation.
Furthermore, Minister Kishi announced two initiatives to tackle new security challenges. He stated that in the field of the environment, Japan will hold a seminar to share knowledge and exchange views gained by the Climate Change Task Force, whilst in the area of cybersecurity the MOD will conduct a novel Japan-ASEAN Cyber International Law Seminar in addition to the ongoing “Japan-ASEAN Cyber Security Training Program for Defense Authorities.”
Minister Kishi indicated that given the current international situation, it has become clearer that unilateral changes to the status quo by coercion can occur and emphasized that this is why it is important to uphold the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region. In particular, he referred to the importance of the formation of a free and open maritime order. In this context, the Code of Conduct on South China Sea should also be effective, substantive, consistent with international law, including UNCLOS, and should not infringe on the legitimate rights and interests of all stakeholders. Minister Kishi stated that the MOD / SDF will continue to collaborate with ASEAN countries with cooperation tailored to the needs of each country and through the provision of equipment.
Before closing, Minister Kishi mentioned the state of affairs of Myanmar and stated that Japan is concerned about the continued lack of action to improve the situation in Myanmar and strongly urges the Myanmar military to take concrete actions to (1) immediately stop the violence, (2) release those who are detained, and (3) swiftly restore Myanmar’s democratic political system. Japan is deeply concerned by the approval of executions of detainees including pro-democracy activists announced on June 3. Minister Kishi indicated that concerning the admission of Myanmar students to JSDF educational institutions, it is a prerequisite that the students do not engage in the crackdown of innocent civilians after their return. Minister Kishi stated that Japan also supports the implementation of Five-Point Consensus by ASEAN and will work together with the international community and will continue to provide maximum support to the initiatives by ASEAN.
The Ministers of ASEAN member states welcomed the revitalization of Japan and ASEAN defense cooperation and exchanges, and viewed Japan’s new initiatives in the fields of the environment and cybersecurity with the expectation that they will further promote practical Japan and ASEAN cooperation under the Vientiane Vision 2.0.
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