Japan–U.S. Defense Ministers Conference

(From left) Defense Minister Ichikawa, U.S. Secretary of Defense Panetta
(From left) Defense Minister Ichikawa, U.S. Secretary of Defense Panetta

On October 25, the Ministry of Defense held the first Japan Japan–U.S. Defense Ministers Conference since the launch of the Noda administration. At the conference, Defense Minister Ichikawa commented that the Japan–U.S. Alliance was a vital foundation for peace and stability in Japan and the Asia-Pacific, and that cooperation between the two countries based on the Alliance carries out an important role in effectively responding to numerous difficult security problems around the world. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta responded by saying that regardless of the stern situation surrounding the defense budget in the United States, it would maintain and further strengthen its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Both ministers agreed that, in light of the increasingly uncertain security environment in the region, including a growing level of military operations, the two countries would carry out timely and effective joint exercises and joint surveillance operations, and promote the shared use of each country’s facilities in order to increase the number of options to use as bases for the operations. Through these activities the two ministers agreed on energizing the operations of units, demonstrating the presence and abilities of both Japan and the United States, and developing a dynamic relationship in terms of defense cooperation.

The two also agreed on advancing Japan–U.S. cooperation in the fields of information security, space, cyber, and ballistic missile defense (BMD). Moreover, with regard to the relocation of Futenma Air Station, Minister Ichikawa explained that preparations were underway to be able to submit the environmental impact assessment by the end of the year. Minister Ichikawa and Defense Secretary Panetta agreed that the danger of Futenma Air Station would be promptly eliminated and that the facility would be replaced and returned as quickly as possible based on the agreements made between Japan and the United States while acquiring the understanding of Okinawa.

Japan–ASEAN vice-ministerial level meeting and related events (bilateral meetings and seminar)

Japan-ASEAN vice-ministerial level meeting
Japan–ASEAN vice-ministerial level meeting

On Wednesday, September 28, in Tokyo, the Ministry of Defense hosted “The Third Meeting of Senior Defense Officials on Common Security Challenges in the Asia-Pacific Region (Japan–ASEAN vice-ministerial level meeting).”

Vice-Minister of Defense Kimito Nakae participated from Japan and chaired the meeting. The meeting was attended by vice-ministerial level officials from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the ASEAN Secretariat, among others.

At the meeting, participants engaged in candid and constructive exchange of views on common security challenges of the region, including “regional initiatives for strengthening maritime security” and “capacity building support focusing on non-traditional security areas.”

With regard to regional initiatives for strengthening maritime security, the main discussions were as follows:

  • Need for close cooperation on anti-piracy measures at the international and regional levels, including gathering and sharing of information on piracy.
  • Welcoming of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and need for establishment of a South China Sea Code of Conduct.
  • Importance of common understanding on interpretation of international law, including freedom of navigation; need for multilateral frameworks, including the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) and the East Asia Summit (EAS), and cooperation with non-ASEAN countries, including Japan, for the resolution of South China Sea issues.

With regard to capacity building focusing on non-traditional security areas, the main discussions were as follows:

  • Need for capacity building in not only humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, but also landmine and unexploded ordnance disposal, defense medicine, and peacekeeping operations (PKO).
  • Welcoming of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and need for establishment of a South China Sea Code of Conduct.
  • Strong expectations for Japan’s role in capacity building in non-traditional security areas.

Countries also expressed words of sympathy in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and commended the responses taken by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF).

On the following day, Thursday, September 29, the Tokyo Seminar on Common Security Challenges was held. This was a public seminar that invited experts and government officials from Japan and overseas. Active discussions took place on common security challenges of the region, including “resource and security challenges” and “regional initiatives for strengthening maritime security.”

During the course of the meeting, meetings were also held individually with vice-ministerial level officials from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Japan–Vietnam Defense Ministerial Meeting (signing of Memorandum of Understanding)

Defense Minister Ichikawa shaking hands with Minister of National Defense Phung Quang Thanh
Defense Minister Ichikawa shaking hands with Minister of National Defense Phung Quang Thanh

On October 24, Defense Minister Ichikawa met with Minister of National Defense Phung Quang Thanh of Vietnam, who was on a visit to Japan, at the Ministry of Defense. An exchange of views took place on maritime security and the international and regional security situations.

During the meeting, both ministers shared the view on the importance of maintaining close coordination among the international community and the regional countries concerned regarding the South China Sea issue and other matters. The ministers signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Japan–Vietnam Defense Cooperation and Exchange, which sets forth, among other items, the regular holding of vice-ministerial level talks, on regular basis mutual visits by working-level, of each service and cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Japan–UK Defense Ministerial Meeting

Japan-UK Defense Ministerial Meeting
Japan–UK Defense Ministerial Meeting

On October 31, Defense Minister Ichikawa held a defense ministerial meeting with Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond of the United Kingdom (UK) at the Ministry of Defense. Both sides shared the view to further enhance Japan–UK defense cooperative relations. At the meeting, it was agreed that a new Memorandum on Defense Cooperation will be established between the leaders of both countries.

The Memorandum on Defense Cooperation between Japan and the UK will be the first memorandum to be formulated since 2004. In light of the changes in the security environment over the last seven years and the emergence of new issues requiring cooperation, including cyber defense, the new Memorandum will aim to further enhance Japan–UK cooperative relations in addition to the anti-piracy measures and joint exercises to date.

Japan–India Defense Ministerial Meeting

Defense Minister Ichikawa and Defence Minister A K Antony
Defense Minister Ichikawa and Defence Minister A K Antony

On November 2, Defense Minister Ichikawa held a Japan-India defense ministerial meeting with Indian Defence Minister A K Antony, who was on a visit to Japan.

At the meeting’s outset, Minister Ichikawa expressed appreciation for India’s assistance in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. He said that he would like to forge amicable relations between Japan and India and that he would like to deepen the defense exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2012. Both sides concurred to carry out mutual visits of vessel and aircraft and bilateral exercise between the MSDF and Indian Navy. They also concurred to implement exchanges between the GSDF and Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK) of India.

Visit of Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense to the Republic of Korea

Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense Nakae shaking hands with Vice Minister Lee, Young Geol of the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK
Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense Nakae shaking hands with Vice Minister Lee, Young Geol of the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK

On November 1, Administrative Vice-Minister of Defense Nakae visited the Republic of Korea (ROK) and held a Japan–ROK defense vice-ministerial level meeting with Vice Minister Lee, Young Geol of the Ministry of National Defense of the ROK. The vice-ministerial level talks were held based on the agreement reached at the Japan–ROK defense ministerial meeting in January 2011 to hold these meetings regularly. With a view to strengthening Japan–ROK defense cooperation, both vice ministers exchanged views on the regional situation, includingthe DPRK, and the defense policies of the two countries.

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