Japan Needs EU As Security Partner

During his visit to France, Germany, Italy and Belgium in March, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried hard to explore ways for striking a trade deal with the European Union (EU). Recently, he hinted that the Asian powerhouse would join hands with the European bloc to strengthen security in Asia.
A couple of days ago, Prime Minister Abe said that he wanted the EU to help Japan ensure peace in Asia, as Tokyo and EU member states have a shared commitment to international law. He expressed serious concern over security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, saying that North Korea and China are the main trouble-makers in the continent. He also said that Beijing not only destabilised East and South China Seas by adopting aggressive policies, but also encouraged North Korea to provoke other countries in the region.
Speaking at an event in the Japanese capital, Premier Abe claimed that he discussed the issue with French President Francois Hollande in Paris and the president backed his view on the importance of freedom of navigation and open seas. He told the audience that Japan and France might undertake joint naval drills in the Asia-Pacific in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Abe strongly criticised the EU for not taking a bold step against China, which is increasing its influence in Asia-Pacific and South Asia in order to take full control of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). According to the PM, Europe is playing safe with Beijing even after the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that there is no legal basis for China’s extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea. Although Brussels had expressed hope that China would respect the ruling, it never asked the Asian giant to implement the ruling.
Prime Minister Abe made clear that Tokyo would snap ties with Europe, if the EU member countries decided to (indirectly) encourage China by not taking actions against the communist nation. At the same time, he admitted that some European countries, like the UK, placed a strong emphasis on their defence ties with Japan. Britain is willing to consider Japan as its “most important security partner” in the Asia-Pacific, insisted the PM.
PM Abe once again requested the European nations to boost ties with Japan and to form an alliance with other likeminded partners in the region, including Australia, the US and India, in order to counter China’s growing influence. It is important for Europe to realise the fact that maritime security problems in the region will have international legal consequences, said the premier.
However, it is still not clear whether the EU will accept Japan’s proposal and ask China to show restraint. In the past, India, too, expressed concern over China’s aggressive foreign policies and joined hands with Japan to counter its northern neighbour.

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