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Japan must take on a leadership role to rebuild international cooperation

The Yomiuri ShimbunUpholding the order of the international community, thus leading to sustainable global growth, is important. Japan must take the leadership role in rebuilding international cooperation, which is now being shaken.

Starting Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Netherlands and Britain, launching his summit diplomacy there. Late this month, he intends to take part in the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where leaders of countries and top executives of large companies get together.

Last year, various problems emerged, including U.S.-China trade friction, turmoil in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, and internal discord in the European Union (EU).

The system of global cooperation will be tested at the summit meeting of the Group of 20 major economies, to be held in Osaka in June.

As prime minister of the country chairing the summit, Abe will assume the responsibility of drawing together the opinions of countries over how to maintain the free trade system and how to cooperate on tackling global issues such as climate change. The debacle of the G20 leaders meeting last year, at which the United States and China were unable to resolve their clashes of opinion, must be avoided.

Serving as a basis for advancing Japan’s diplomacy is a solid Japan-U.S. alliance.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who advocates his “America First” policy, is intensifying his inward-looking posture. It is necessary to confirm anew that the presence of the U.S. military is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity of Asia and the Pacific region.

For the stability of the Japan-U.S. relationship, it is essential for both countries not to let their conflict over trade worsen. In the soon-to-start trade negotiations, both countries should aim at reaching an agreement that will contribute to increased benefits for both sides.

Better China ties

Concerning the North Korean nuclear issue, in a state of stalemate, leaders of both Japan and the United States also need to share their information and to scrupulously compare and adjust policies.

In order to resolve the northern territorial issue, which Abe shows his eagerness to do, it is indispensable to negotiate with Russia tenaciously.

Vigilance against movements by China, which continues its hegemonic conduct, must not be neglected, either.

On the basis of the National Defense Program Guidelines revised last year, it is vital for the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military to cooperate, thus enhancing deterrence against China. They should also advance cooperation in such new domains as outer space and cyberspace.

In rivalry with China’s “Belt and Road” initiative — a scheme to create a huge economic zone — the United States has announced its policy of injecting a large sum of money into infrastructure development of the Indo-Pacific region. Japan, in cooperating with the United States, should actively support the nation-building of countries in this region.

The underlying tendency of Japan’s relations with China is toward improvement. Summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is set to visit Japan, are scheduled in June. Concluding a new political document with China could be worth considering. This should serve as a norm to expand mutual benefits between the two countries.

It is important to reduce friction with China, by urging its self-restraint in regard to provocative behavior around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, and thus to build a long-term, stable Japan-China relationship.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 9, 2019)Speech



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