Editorial Notes

Asean defence meeting agreements must be followed to prevent hot spots: Yomiuri Shimbun

Defence ministers pose for a group photo at the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus in Singapore on Oct 20, 2018. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It is greatly significant for ministers from various nations who are in charge of defence to promote mutual communication, with a view to securing the regional stability of Asia.

On the sidelines of an international conference related to the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) in Singapore, defence ministers and other officials from such nations as Japan, the United States, China and South Korea have held talks in different frameworks.

In talks among Japanese, US and South Korean defence ministers, they agreed to continue closely exchanging information in pursuit of North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons, and nuclear and missile programmes.

They also agreed to promote defence cooperation.

"It is important to improve the deterrent power and response capacity of Japan, the United States and South Korea," Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters.

The international community is continuing diplomatic efforts to denuclearise North Korea. The lack of concerted action among the three nations has come to the surface regarding how to deal with the North.

It is important for ministers in charge of security to share common perceptions in this respect.

It is essential to steadily implement resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on North Korea, thereby urging the country to abandon its nuclear weapons, and nuclear and missile programmes.

It cannot be overlooked that the North is repeating what is called "sedori," by which cargoes such as refined petroleum products are smuggled into the country through ship-to-ship transfers in international waters.

Japan, the United States and South Korea should take the initiative in increasing clampdown efforts.

The three countries have repeated joint exercises aimed at guarding against missile attacks.

It is necessary to improve their skillfulness in this endeavour.

In the South China Sea, tensions between the United States and China are heightening due to progress in Chinese attempts to set up military footholds there.

In late September, a destroyer from the Chinese military came abnormally close to a US Aegis ship, repeatedly making aggressive moves.

An act of provocation that could incur an unforeseen situation cannot be tolerated.

In talks between the US and Chinese defence ministers, they reached a consensus about the importance of continuing bilateral dialogue in the field of security.

The two countries need to promote confidence-building and strive to ease tensions between them.

It was significant for the Japanese and US defence ministers to confirm the view that any attempts to "change the status quo" with the backing of force are unacceptable.

How should maritime order be maintained?

Based on the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy, Japan and the United States must continue urging China to restrain itself.

Designed to avert a collision between the Self-Defence Forces and the Chinese military mainly in the East China Sea, the Japan-China maritime and air liaison mechanism was put into use in June.

The Japanese and Chinese defence ministers confirmed they would seek to utilise it to the fullest extent.

Quick steps should be taken to open a hotline at an early date and realise a meeting between senior defence officials from the two nations.

Japan decided not to join a recent international fleet review in South Korea because the South requested Japan not to hoist the SDF ship's ensign, the Rising Sun flag.

The South Korean Navy hoisted a flag symbolising a hero of anti-Japanese resistance.

Political issues should not be brought into a place where uniformed defence officials from various countries promote mutual trust.

Iwaya expressed regret to the South Korean defence minister over the incident. It is important to adopt a resolute attitude in dealing with such a matter.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.

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