Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida used the just-concluded Shangri-La Dialogue for an exposition of his "realism diplomacy for a new era". While his ideas mark continuum - Japan has been enlarging its strategic space since the Miyazawa government deployed the country's Self-Defence Forces in 1992 as peacekeepers to Cambodia - matters have lately taken on a new urgency in Tokyo. This comes from the increasingly deteriorating situation in the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, and repeated nuclear and missile activities in North Korea. Adding to this has been the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has chilled leaders of small states that have to coexist with large and powerful neighbours.
At the heart of Mr Kishida's five-pillar "Vision for Peace" is the fundamental reinforcement of Japan's defence capabilities and the tighter strategic embrace of its only ally, the United States. But it also includes building new forms of security cooperation with like-minded countries such as Australia. To this end, Japan will substantially increase its defence outlay and the new national security strategy to be announced within months could apparently include counter-strike options, according to Mr Kishida. He also disclosed plans to allocate US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) of assistance over the next three years to provide patrol vessels and other maritime security assistance to selected countries in the region.