The 16th Tokyo Defense Forum

Meeting in Tokyo Defense Forum
Meeting in Tokyo Defense Forum

The 16th Tokyo Defense Forum (Forum for Defense Authorities in the Asia-Pacific Region) was held in Tokyo, on March 15, 2012, with the participation of officers in charge of defense policy(Director General of Defense ministries and General-class officers)of 24 countries*. The European Union (EU), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) also participated in this Forum.

The Forum was chaired by Mr. Kazuo Sunaga, Director-General for International Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Japan.

The focus of the Forum was twofold: “Civil-Military Cooperation in Disaster Relief Operations” for Session I in which participants discussed based on their experiences, and “Efforts to Ensure Maritime Security” for Session II in which participants discussed their efforts and international cooperation toward confidence building.

In session I,“Civil-Military Cooperation in Disaster Relief Operations”, major discussions were as follows;

  • Participants observed that the military could and should play a major role in HA/DR activities. It was also pointed out that civil-military cooperation was indispensable in responding HA/DR activities and that it was important to share information and have coordination mechanism in place among countries concerned in the early stage of a disaster.
  • Participants agreed that it was critical for both sides to be informed of each other’s capabilities and working methods through information sharing and joint training in order to ensure swift and effective civil-military cooperation in disaster relief operations. It was observed that such efforts would be also effective in establishing trust and cooperative relationship between the military and civil actors including humanitarian agencies and other government agencies.
  • Some participants pointed out that it would be useful to create common procedures for offering support to a disaster-hit country to be shared by major actors beforehand in order to enable each country to carry out HA/DR cooperation smoothly.
Defense Minister Tanaka delivering his speech in Tokyo Defense Forum
Defense Minister Tanaka delivering his speech in Tokyo Defense Forum

In session II “Efforts to Ensure Maritime Security”, major discussions were as follows;

  • Participants acknowledged that maritime security covered the wide range of challenges including piracy, terrorism, smuggling, environmental pollution, and territorial issues. Therefore, it was shared that each country had its specific security environment and challenges and there was no standardized solution for solving these issues.
    On the other hand, participants agreed that no single country could ensure maritime security single-handedly, and thus bilateral, multilateral, and regional cooperation in practical activities such as holding dialogues and joint trainings were indispensable. It was also noted that improving the transparency of each country’s military forces and sharing the “Good seamanship”, customary maritime manners, were significant in building confidence among countries concerned.
  • Participants also agreed that regional frameworks and dialogues such as ADMM plus, ARF, and WPNS were particularly important in order to carry out aforementioned international cooperation. Some participants mentioned that the beneficial synergy among those frameworks and dialogues could be expected.
  • Some participants observed that it was important for each country concerned to respect each other’s standpoint and observe United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) and DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea), while continuing to work on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) among countries concerned in order to deal with the issues concerning the South China Sea.

On 16 March, the following day of the 16th Forum, inviting security experts, including both academics and government officials, from Japan and other countries, an open seminar was held and the active discussion were conducted on the same agenda items as those of the Forum, “Civil-Military Cooperation in Disaster Relief Operations”and“Efforts to Ensure Maritime Security”.

* Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, East Timor, the United States, and Vietnam

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