The Straits Times says

Japan must play rightful role in Asia

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Strategic stability in the Indo-Pacific region will benefit from Japan's decision to participate in a multinational military exercise in Indonesia for the first time this month, alongside the United States. The annual Garuda Shield military exercise, held typically between Indonesia and the US, is expected to be significantly larger than previous rounds, with several nations participating or observing for the first time. The participation of Japan, a treaty ally of the US, in a military exercise that involves Indonesia, South-east Asia's largest country and economy, suggests that this region is drawing closer to North-east Asia in ramping up common efforts to counter China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Japan remains central to that concerted response. Historically, Japan's record as a transgressor in Asia during World War II affected regional perceptions of its rise. However, those fears have been assuaged in the years since the advent of the post-war Asian alliance system. It saw Japan becoming America's partner in resisting the Soviet Union's expansionism even as American preponderance, exercised through the alliance system, held in check any prospects of even nascent Japanese military adventurism. Today, having done much to atone for its wartime past, and by making clear that has left expansionist designs behind, Tokyo is well placed to play a vital role in securing peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific in a defensive but credibly deterrent way.

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