The Second ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus

Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera traveled to Brunei between August 27 and 29 to attend the second ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) and to hold bilateral talks with defense ministers participating in the conference.

1. The Second ADMM-Plus

On August 29, defense ministers from 10 ASEAN member countries and another eight countries outside the region met in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei to attend the second ADMM-Plus meeting, which was chaired by Brunei.

During the meeting, a report was made on development of the ASEAN region and on the progress of the ADMM-Plus framework. This was followed by a discussion involving defense ministers from each participating country on both regional and international security and defense issues. Minister Onodera introduced the recently released interim report on review of Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines and Japan’s initiatives for bringing stability to the Asia-Pacific region. He also suggested the need for greater transparency of military power in each country as an important future task for the ADMM-Plus framework.

During the discussion, the parties pointed out the activities and future direction of the ADMM-Plus framework, the prevention of maritime conflicts and avoidance of collisions, the importance of denuclearized Korean peninsula, and concerns over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

With regard to the Experts’ Working Group (EWG) within the ADMM-Plus framework, an agreement was reached to establish a new EWG for removing landmines, and new joint chairs for the six EWGs were approved, including the joint chair involving Japan and Laos for the EWG on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

At the end of the meeting, a wrap up session was held on the achievements of the ADMM-Plus framework to date, which was followed by the signing of the Bandar Seri Begawan Joint Declaration on the future direction of cooperation. The key points of this joint declaration are as follows.

  • In order to develop the peace and security targets for the Asia-Pacific region, defense cooperation will be strengthened and further understanding and trust will be fostered through close exchange of information between defense agencies.
  • Confirmed the achievements of each EWG to date, including the first ADMM-Plus exercise held in June 2013.
  • Approval was given for the frequency of the ADMMPlus meeting to be changed from every three years to once every two years (with the third ADMM-Plus meeting scheduled to take place in Malaysia in 2015)
  • Approval was given for the establishment of the new EWG on landmine removal and the changing of the joint chairs for each EWG for the next cycle.
  • A recommendation was made to establish a specific protocol to avoid maritime misunderstandings and undesirable incidents.

2. Bilateral talks

Minister Onodera took the opportunity during the ADMMPlus meeting to hold individual bilateral defense talks with his counterparts from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States (see summary below), and Vietnam.

Japan–U.S. Defense Ministerial Meeting
(with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel)

Both ministers reaffirmed continued significance of the Japan–U.S. Alliance in ensuring security of Japan as well as peace and stability in the region and also exchanged views on security environment of the Asia-Pacific region. As security environment is increasingly severe as demonstrated by provocations over territorial water, Minister Onodera stated that Japan is committed to protecting its land, water, and air, and Japan does not accept change of status quo by force, and is determined to protect open and rule-based order of the sea. The ministers affirmed U.S. position over the Senkaku Islands and confirmed to work closely to respond to situation surrounding Japan including that of North Korea.

The Ministers agreed on the significance of further promoting bilateral defense cooperation in the area of cyber security. In this context, the Ministers directed their staffs to explore a new framework of cooperation on cyber security between defense authorities.

With regard to review of Guidelines for U.S.–Japan Defense Cooperation, the Ministers reiterated the significance of studying bilateral defense cooperation as well as future Roles, Missions, and Capabilities of the Alliance as soon as possible in order to respond to evolving security environment and strengthening regional security. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the progress of discussion on strategic environment perspective which serves as base for the review work of the Guidelines, and agreed to continue their vigorous discussion.

Members from the United States House of Representatives and Senate visit the Ministry of Defense

Representatives from the United States House of Representatives and Senate paid courtesy calls Minister of Defense between the end of August and the beginning of September as follows.

Courtesy call
by Senator John McCain on Aug. 21

Defense Minister Onodera with Senator John McCain
Defense Minister Onodera with Senator John McCain

Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera and Senator John McCain exchanged views on security environment in the Asia-Pacific region during their meeting. Minister Onodera welcomed the fact that the United States’ commitment to the Senkaku Islands was clearly shown in the resolution on maritime security, unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate. with regards to the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, Senator McCain noted that the realignment plan is important for Japan as well as for Japan–U.S. relations and that the U.S. congress makes every possible efforts to proceed with the plan as early as possible.

Courtesy call of delegation led
by Representative Dana Rohrabacher on Sept. 2

Defense Minister Onodera welcoming Representative Dana Rohrabacher
Defense Minister Onodera welcoming Representative
Dana Rohrabacher

Minister Onodera met with a delegation of seven U.S. House members led by Representative Dana Rohrabacher. During the meeting, they exchanged views on security environment in the Asia-Pacific region and the situation in Syria. Minister Onodera explained that he was grateful for the fact that the National Defense Authorization Act, passed by the House in June 2013, expressed over China’s rapid increase in military spending. Members of the delegation emphasized that the robust and steady Japan–U.S. relationship is very important for future peace and security, and also explained that they think Japan plays a critical role in ensuring peace and stability in the region.

Courtesy call of delegation led
by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Sept. 2

Defense Minister Onodera shaking hands with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Defense Minister Onodera shaking hands
with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Minister Onodera met with a delegation of five members from both chambers led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and exchanged iews on security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, cyber space security and so forth. During the meeting, Miniter Onodera asked for the cooperation of the U.S. congress with regard to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa to Guam to help mitigate impact on Okinawa and to strengthen the U.S.–Japan Alliance. Senator Gillibrand briefed Minister Onodera on the U.S. congress’s efforts to safeguard cyber space security.

MSDF Chief of Staff visits Russia and France

The Chief of Staff of the Maritime-Self Defense Force, Katsutoshi Kawano, visited Russia and France between August 25 and 31 in response to formal invitations extended from Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy as well as the Chief of Staff of the French Navy. In addition to meetings with senior navy officers, MSDF Chief of Staff Kawano also visited Russian and French navy units to promote mutual understanding and foster a relationship of trust between Japan and the two countries.

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